Frequently Asked Questions

About Burnham Yard

Burnham Yard is a decommissioned rail yard that was closed in 2016. For nearly 150 years, Burnham Yard served as a repair, refueling, maintenance, manufacturing, and storage fali>
The Colorado Transportation Investment Office (CTIO) is an independent, government-owned business within the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT). CTIO seeks out innovative and efficient means of financing and delivering important surface transportation infrastructure projects in Colorado. CTIO purchased Burnham Yard because of the property’s potential to improve mobility through central Denver and along the Front Range, introduce new development on the property, and serve a reimagined role in the surrounding communities.
The land was acquired by the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad in 1871—five years before Colorado became a state—and remained a driving force of economic activity for several decades. Learn more about Burnham Yard's history in a 2017 report by Historic Denver
There are two parts to Burnham Yards' future: rail corridor development and neighborhood development. This Study focuses on rail corridor development—i.e., to determine where freight lines, potential Front Range Passenger Rail (FRPR) lines, and Regional Transportation District (RTD) light rail lines should go. Separately, the City and County of Denver will lead a Small Area Planning study that will seek to understand how Burnham Yard can integrate into and add to surrounding neighborhoods

Environmental Review

The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requires projects that use federal funds, require a federal permit, or will provide new or revised access to federal infrastructure, to analyze the project’s effects on the environment prior to a Federal Agency making approvals or taking an action on the project.
An Alternatives Analysis uses transportation planning decisions and analysis, including purpose and need, identification of preliminary alternatives, and elimination of unreasonable alternatives, to inform NEPA. This helps to reduce or eliminate duplication of work in the planning and NEPA processes.
The Study team will focus on deliverables that can be directly incorporated into future reports and documentation before the NEPA process begins. For example, the purpose and need and initial environmental investigations completed during this transportation planning Study will feed into—and help streamline—the future NEPA process.

Transportation Study Process

The first step of anything happening in Burnham Yard is to understand where the rail lines should go to support several priorities such as transportation, land use, bike/ped facilities, environmental impacts, and benefits and burdens related to environmental justice and equity. Determining the location of rail lines will allow the rest of the Burnham Yard property to be considered for development.
This Study, which pertains to rail corridor development, began in October 2022 and will end in the summer of 2023. Neighborhood development will be considered in a separate project.
This Study will recommend one or more track layout alternatives for the Consolidated Main Line (CML) location and enhancement of RTD light rail while maintaining options for Front Range Passenger Rail (FRPR) within Burnham Yard and the surrounding areas. A range of potential track alignments will be identified by engaging with stakeholders and members of the public, and additional work in conceptual track design and noise/vibration analysis will support the narrowing down of those alternatives to a recommended track alignment.
The range of alternatives will be reasonable options for how to align tracks of the Consolidated Main Line (CML), RTD light rail, Front Range Passenger Rail (FRPR) right-of-way through the study area. These alignments could be located on the property’s east side, on the west side, or split between both sides—and the tracks themselves could be at-grade (i.e. ground-level), elevated above-grade, or depressed below-grade.
CTIO and CDOT are the decision-makers for this technical pre-NEPA Study which will recommend new track alignment(s) for ultimate approval by the respective railroad owners (BNSF, Union Pacific, RTD, FRPR).
The Colorado Transportation Investment Office (CTIO) is paying for this Study.
The purchase price was $50 million.
There are four rail stakeholders that are being engaged during this study: RTD, Union Pacific Railroad, BNSF Railway, and the Front Range Passenger Rail District. The study is coordinating with these rail stakeholders in several ways, including through participation in a task force, interviews, and sharing various technical, engineering, and planning information.

Beyond the Transportation Study

There are no final decisions on what will happen to each of the buildings (some meet historic designations). There are possibilities of demolition, refurbishment, and/or redevelopment based on the track alignment outcomes, sales of smaller property parcels, and community needs.
Although this Study is a technical one narrowly focused on track alignments, the Study is working closely with the City and County of Denver and the State of Colorado to ensure that all processes—including the development of the rail corridor and future neighborhood development process—are informed by one another's activities, plans, and interests. In particular, this Study is engaging the City and County of Denver as the City prepares to develop its Small Area Plan for the property and surrounding area.
No. The current technical study is focused only on the possible alignments for railroad tracks. Future studies will consider future development on the site.

Community and the Environment

This Study is working with a number of different stakeholders who represent different interests. Some of the groups being engaged represent interests, including education, environmental issues and sustainability, housing, nearby neighborhoods, and business. The study is also specifically looking at equity issues, engaging groups representing human rights, aging, community impact, sustainability, housing, and neighborhood issues. Additionally, the Study is engaging a number of technical stakeholders, such as the UP and BNSF railroads, RTD, the Denver Regional Council of Governments (DRCOG), Denver Water, and others. Public comments can be submitted through the project website here.
Neighborhood involvement will increase during the Denver Small Area Planning process that will specifically examine neighborhood development, whereas this project examines the technical aspects of rail alignment. This project is, however, engaging with nearby Registered Neighborhood Organizations (RNOs) to understand their interests, concerns, activities, mobility trends, and plans.
This Study will engage federal & state stakeholders, local agency stakeholders, and community stakeholders that represent a wide range of interests, including neighborhood, environmental, equity, business, bike/ped, transit, and transportandtion interests.
While much of the work of this Study is technical engineering, much more robust community engagement will be conducted in subsequent NEPA processes as well as during the Denver Small Area Planning process. This study is conducting a number of outreach activities, including technical design workshops, technical stakeholder task force, a public website, e-notifications, elected officials engagement, community interviews and assessment, and environmental justice and equity interviews and assessment.
The study will evaluate a number of potential environmental impacts and use that data to assist in the selection of a recommended alignment. There are a number of environmental topics that will be evaluated, including air quality, greenhouse gasses, hazardous wastes, historic resources, and noise and vibration.
Yes, there will be much community outreach beyond the Transportation Planning Study. The Denver Small Area Planning process will focus primarily on neighborhood development and will work closely with communities. Additionally, the next step in rail corridor development following the completion of this technical Study would be a NEPA process, which would also include significant public involvement.
  1. Stay up-to-date on our project website
  2. Sign up to be on our notification list, which will stay active for this Study as well as subsequent NEPA projects
  3. Engage with the Denver Small Area Planning process
  4. Speak with leaders of your RNO if you live adjacent to Burnham Yard; and
  5. Submit a comment or question through the project website here

Transportation and Mobility

The RTD lines near Burnham Yard (i.e., 10th and Osage; Alameda Stations) are near capacity during peak hours. The goal for this Study in regards to RTD is to provide RTD with two new tracks in this area.
Burnham Yard is a 58-acre site, and it is anticipated that the rail corridor will use approximately 17 of those acres. The approximately 41 acres that remain will be sold and used for neighborhood development. The specific uses will be determined through other projects, such as the Denver Small Area Planning process.
Yes. Several modes of travel could be advanced through this Study, including RTD light rail, biking, rolling, walking, and passenger rail.

Stakeholders

  • Auraria Higher Education Campus
  • Baker Historic Neighborhood Assoc.
  • BNSF Railway
  • BuCu West Development Association
  • CCD Agency for Human Rights and Community Partnerships
  • CCD Council (At-Large)
  • CCD Council (D3)
  • CCD Council (D7)
  • CCD Office of Climate Action, Sustainability, and Resiliency (CASR)
  • CCD Office on Aging
  • CO Leg. (House D61)
  • CO Leg. (Senate D8)
  • Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition
  • Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce
  • Denver Metro Community Impact
  • Denver Streets Partnership
  • Denver Sustainability Advisory Council
  • Denver Water
  • Denver Housing Authority
  • DRCOG
  • Governor's Office
  • La Alma Lincoln Park Neighborhood Assoc.
  • Martin Marietta
  • Mi Casa Resource Center
  • Office of Economic Development and International Trade
  • Restaurant Depot
  • Rio Grande Industries
  • RTD
  • Santa Fe Business Improvement District
  • Sun Valley Community Coalition
  • Union Pacific Railroad
  • Urban Peak
  • Valverde Neighborhood Association
  • Xcel Energy