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Former chief Cal Marsella: RTD spent millions on studies without a financing plan

A few million here and a few million there and all of a sudden you're talking about real money. This week there was plenty of media coverage about former chief of RTD Cal Marsella's pension payout. He received $2.9 million in February from RTD when he cashed out his pension.

In a recently posted interview of Marsella (by the Nashville Area Metropolitan Planning Organization at the Regional Mass Transit Summit, May 27, 2009), he discusses the millions RTD spent on studies for additional lines before a financing plan for those lines was in place.

"We had built our first few rail lines and they were so successful that the agenda in metro Denver ceased to be 'Will it work?' and it became 'When do we get ours?' Everybody wanted a line. So the board, my board of directors, said let's go out and do these major investment studies. Now, I come from the old school where you don't do the studies until you have a financing plan in place, which we didn't. The studies are not cheap, they were several million dollars apiece. But the board said 'No, we're so committed, we're going to go ahead and take a leap of faith and do these.' And I really was not supportive, but we did it, it was a board directive and we did it. In retrospect, it was the smartest thing we ever did..."

Yes, everyone wanted a line. OF COURSE everyone wanted a line.

Randal O'Toole of the Cato Institute (seen in this earlier WSYS video), addresses the issue of all the metro-area cities wanting a rail line in the clip below from Jon Caldara's Independent Thinking.

A recent Denver Post editorial makes the point that ". . . RTD is struggling financially to complete FasTracks and the district will need to convince voters at some point that it's a good steward of their money."

Millions in pension, millions in studies - it starts to add up.

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