Denver Commuter Rail Maintenance Facility

State-of-the-art railcar shop showcases best practices in transit maintenance facility design

In response to fast-paced population growth, Denver, Colorado, is on an aggressive path to expand its mass transit system. Under the leadership of Denver’s Regional Transportation District (RTD), the construction of a Commuter Rail Maintenance Facility emerged as a critical component of a comprehensive strategy for transit expansion. To support the service and maintenance of the RTD fleet, Gannett Fleming designed a four-level shop building with six tracks that accommodates 85-foot electric multiple unit (EMU) commuter cars powered by 25-kilovolt (kV) overhead catenary. As the only RTD transit maintenance facility that serves four new FasTracks commuter rail lines, the shop is essential to the success of the transit network.

The RTD fleet of EMU cars is serviced, inspected, and maintained at the facility, which includes a system operations and control center on the second floor. A model of best practices in transit maintenance facility design, the building made history as the first LEED® Gold certified commuter rail maintenance facility in the U.S. As lead design firm, Gannett Fleming embraced the challenge of designing a 237,000-square-foot facility that meets and exceeds the demands of modern commuter rail operations and train maintenance.

What We Did

Trains enter the facility on one of six tracks, each designed for a specific maintenance need. The layout reduces congestion and streamlines tasks, ensuring workers have access to appropriate equipment and lighting. Three tracks are elevated, with an open bay under the rail to allow easy access to car undersides. Train hoists lift cars to enable wheel and undercar maintenance. The facility’s deep foundations and insulated exterior walls create a durable structure built with the future in mind.

Throughout project development, the extensive use of building information modeling (BIM) improved design coordination, optimizing collaboration, constructability, scheduling, and efficiency. By creating and modeling the movement of equipment and materials around the site, the BIM model reduced team conflicts and delays. Energy use and daylight modeling facilitated reductions in energy and water consumption. Recognizing the facility’s design innovations and importance, the Denver RTD offers public tours to illustrate how transportation in the area is changing and growing and to highlight the building’s role in supporting convenient, safe, and reliable transit service.

Key Features

  • Can store 80 EMU commuter cars powered by 25-kV overhead catenary.
  • Is part of the first transit project in the U.S. procured through a design-build-operate-maintain approach.
  • Serves as the only transit maintenance facility servicing a 40-mile-long commuter rail line.
  • Contains an operations control center from which rail dispatch, public announcement and security systems, positive train control, and audio communications are managed.
  • Use of Autodesk BIM software facilitated multidisciplinary coordination.

Sustainability Features & Outcomes

  • Efficient mechanical systems and lights contribute to a 32 percent energy savings compared to baseline data.
  • Water-efficient plumbing fixtures provide a 39 percent reduction in water usage.
  • Radiant floor heating is served by an 89 percent efficient water boiler.
  • Constructed with nearly 18 percent recycled materials and 20 percent locally sourced materials.
  • Built on a disused 30-acre industrial area to protect open space.
  • Whole-building energy modeling enables energy conservation.
  • Encourages cleaner transportation by including carpool designated parking spaces, bike racks, and a dedicated commuter rail stop.

Awards & Recognition

  • Innovative Project of the Year Award, 2016, U.S. Green Building Council Central Pennsylvania, Forever Green Awards.
  • Diamond Certificate, 2016, American Council of Engineering Companies of Pennsylvania, Engineering Excellence Awards.
  • Best Airport/Transit Project, 2015, Engineering News-Record (ENR) Mountain States, Regional Best Projects Awards.
OUTCOMES

Provides an efficient, innovative facility to repair, clean, and store railcars.

First LEED® Gold certified commuter rail maintenance facility in the U.S.

Supports growth of mass transit in the Denver metropolitan area.

Creation of BIM resolved conflicts and enabled energy conservation.