Thursday, September 07, 2017

Colorado explores Front Range commuter line

Written by  Stuart Chirls, senior editor, Railway Age
Colorado explores Front Range commuter line CDOT

A Colorado commission is exploring plans for a commuter rail line connecting cities along the state's Front Range.


The commission, which includes government representatives from Denver to Trinidad, has until Dec. 1 to submit a detailed plan including funding options to the Legislature.

The state Department of Transportation estimated a commuter rail line from Fort Collins to Pueblo would cost $5 billion to $15 billion.

A closer objective is the proposed rerouting of Amtrak's Southwest Chief to include stops in Pueblo and Walsenburg.

The 13-member commission will meet for the second time this week, and plans to convene at least once a month, according to media reports.

The repurposed commission, signed into law by Gov. John Hickenlooper in May, was created in 2014 to plan for the rehabilitation of more than 100 miles of track on Amtrak's Chicago-¬to-Los Angeles line, which stops in Lamar, La Junta and Trinidad in the southeast corner of the state, and consider expanding the Chief's services.

The commissioners have been tasked with finding millions of dollars needed to rehabilitate about 50 miles of track and the Pueblo station. p> Pueblo voters in November 2016 approved a ballot question that would let the county spend excess revenues that otherwise would be returned to taxpayers under the Taxpayer's Bill of Rights, or TABOR, to fund projects including the re-route.

But paying for the project likely would voter-approved taxes, or an the first increase in the state gas since the early 1990s.

The line is considered essential to keeping pace with other growing areas such as Salt Lake City. The Front Range is expected to grow from more than 4 million residents to more than 6 million by 2040.