TransForum 2020

TransForum 2020

Thank you to those of you who virtually joined Smart Commute on October 22 to learn about the historic opening of RTD’s N-Line and hear from Amtrak’s Senior Director of State and Government Relations, RTD GM Paul Ballard, RTD Project Manager Chuck Culig, and WSP’s Karen Hedlund as she discusses The Next Big Thing in train travel. For those who were unable to make it, you’re in luck! Check out the recording of the 8th Annual TransForum below.




  • Welcome: Karen Stuart, Executive Director, Smart Commute Metro North 
  • Featured Speaker – Change Drivers for the Future of Rail: Ray Lang, Amtrak Senior Director of State and Government Relations 
  • Laying the Tracks for the Line: Paul Ballard, RTD Interim General Manager 
  • My Baby Takes the N Line Train: N Line Highlight Video, Chuck Culig, RTD Project Manager 
  • Celebrating our N Line Art!:  Art and interviews with N Line Station Artists 
  • Keynote Speaker – Rail Rebound (with help from the Feds): Karen Hedlund, Former Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) Deputy Administrator 


RTD General Manager

Paul Ballard

Mr. Ballard has focused his career on seamlessly blending all the transportation modes together and developing the governance models and agreements needed to ensure successful passenger transportation systems.  

 Three successful commuter rail startups— North Metro in Denver; TEXRail in Fort Worth to DFW Airport; and the Music City Star in Nashville—highlight his public transportation career. Ballard led the financing, construction, and startup of the TX and NC rail lines, including negotiating often difficult relationships with public entities and freight railroads with disparate interests. He completed construction and entry into service of the North Line commuter rail service in Denver. 

Ballard has served as a general manager, CEO, or president of bus and rail systems in both public and private sectors in the United States and abroad since 1973.  

He began his career as a trainman in commuter rail out of Boston’s North Station, and as a brakeman in freight service for the Boston & Maine Railroad. 

RTD Engineering Project Manager

Chuck Culig

Chuck Culig is an Engineering Project Manager for the Regional Transportation District (RTD).  Most recently he managed the RTD Project Team during the implementation and oversight of the design-build contract for newly completed North Metro Rail Line Project. Which is a 13-mile, Positive Train Control (PTC) compliant, electrified Commuter Railroad.  The N-Line will operate on the newly completed railroad from Denver Union Station to the end of line at the Eastlake-124th Station.  The project includes six Stations, four Park-n-Rides, and a Parking Structure at the 104th Station.  In addition, the Project also constructed the Skyway Bridge, which is the longest bridge structure in the State of Colorado.  With over 20 years of engineering experience, Chuck has been with RTD for 18 years.  Beginning with the successful T-REX Transportation Expansion Project as a post design service and construction engineerthen on the I-225 Light Rail Line Projectwhere he was involved from the environmental planning stages through construction and opening of the R-Line in February 2017 as the Project Manager.  Chuck is a native of Colorado and graduated from the Colorado School of Mines with a BS in Engineering and is a certified Professional Engineer in Colorado. 


Featured Speaker

Amtrak’s Senior Director of State and Government Relations

Ray Lang

Ray Lang was named Senior Director of State and Local Government Affairs for Amtrak in June 2006. Lang is based in Chicago and reports to Bruno Maestri, Amtrak Vice President of Government Affairs and Corporate Communications in Washington D.C. Lang directs government affairs staff in five offices across the country. He is responsible for the Amtrak relationships with individual Governors, State Legislators, Mayors, and other elected officials. Lang began his career at Amtrak in the government affairs headquarters office in Washington, D.C.,in 1994, after serving as an intern forU.S. Congressman Bill Zeliff, of New Hampshire. The following year, Lang came home to Chicago by accepting a position in the regional government affairs office at Chicago Union Station. He has held positions of increasing responsibility within the railroad. In 2013, Lang accepted an additional appointment from the Amtrak Board of Directors by being named President of the Chicago Union Station Company, which owns Chicago Union Station and more of the Chicago riverfront than any other corporation. It was formed by five railroads in 1913 and has been wholly owned by Amtrak since 1984. Amtrak is formally known as the National Railroad Passenger Corporation and was created by an Act of Congress in 1970. Amtrak has operated most of the nation’s intercity passenger trains since May 1971. Lang is a native of suburban Chicago and a graduate of the University of Illinois at Chicago. He attended graduate school at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, where he studied Hebrew and International Relations. He is active in numerous regional Chambers of Commerce and other civic organizations as an advocate for improved passenger rail service and closer coordination between Amtrak and the business community. Lang has been married to attorney Brenda Hatch Lang since 2007. They reside in Chicago’s West Loop neighborhood and enjoy traveling the country on Amtrak trains together.


Keynote Speaker

Former Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) Deputy Administrator

 Karen Hedlund

Karen Hedlund is a nationally-recognized advisor for high-speed, intercity, and commuter rail projects. Currently she is serving as an advisor to the Santa Fe Chief and Front Range Passenger Rail Commission. She also recently led the consultant team that produced a Business Case Analysis for a proposed high-speed rail corridor linking Vancouver, Seattle, and Portland.  

From 2010 to 2014, Ms. Hedlund served as the Federal Railroad Administration’s (FRA) chief counsel and deputy administrator, providing leadership for the Obama administration’s $12 billion high-speed and intercity passenger rail grant program. At FRA, Ms. Hedlund also served on the USDOT Credit Committee charged with approving loans under various transportation programs, including a $145 million combined RRIF and TIFIA loan to support the redevelopment of Denver Union Station.  

Prior to her joining the Obama Administration, Karen had a long career as an attorney practicing in the field of infrastructure finance and P3s. In Colorado, she served as special counsel to CDOT for the TRex project, and as underwriters’ counsel for a segment of E-470.  Karen has had a part-time home in Eagle County for over 25 years and is now a permanent resident of Edwards, CO. 



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