Denver did a number of remarkable things to make it happen: foster cooperation across a vast metropolitan region, convince a skeptical public to increase taxes to build it, and when budget and expense forecasts collapsed in the face of the 2007-2008 financial collapse, create the nation's first large-scale transit public-private partnership to get much of the system built.
But the biggest lesson learned: the greatest benefit of the system isn't relieving traffic congestion, it's the revolution in land use the stations and lines catalyze. Denver had to discover this along the way, but other cities contemplating major expansions can take advantage of what they learned.
Thanks to Colorado Public Radio's "Colorado Matters" for having me on the program yesterday, hours before the piece was even published. You can hear the interview online here.
I am an award-winning journalist and author of American Nations, American Character, Ocean's End, The Lobster Coast, and The Republic of Pirates. I'm a staffer at the Portland Press Herald, where I won a 2012 George Polk Award for my investigative reporting and was named a 2016 Pulitzer Prize finalist.