Grauberger Pushing for Colorado Rail Service

The Southwest Chief and Front Range Passenger Rail Commission in Colorado has named Randy Grauberger to oversee the efforts of pushing for expanded intercity rail passenger service in the state.

Grauberger worked for 28 years at the Colorado Department of Transportation and also worked at WSP Parsons Brinckerhoff.

He said that that having a new governor, a new executive director of his agency and new members of the state legislature have created a favorable environment for passenger rail.

“Everybody understands there needs to be more mobility choices provided to folks over time and passenger rail is an obvious one,” Grauberger said in noting that much of the state’s population growth is occurring along the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains.

Established in 2017, the Front Range Commission is developing a plan for passenger service between Fort Collins and Pueblo.

It has also sought to preserve operations in the state of Amtrak’s Southwest Chief. That included working to fend off efforts by Amtrak earlier this to replace the Chief through Colorado with a bus service.

Some ideas being studied by the Front Range Commission include commuter rail, but it is also looking at high-speed rail.  “The first priority is to determine a course of action,” he said.

The Commission expects to issue by June 1 a request for proposals to engage a consultant to develop a service plan and a preliminary environmental report.

That study is expected to cost $1.5 million and will seek to measure public support for rail service.

Voters in 2018 rejected two ballot measures to fund transportation projects including one proposal to increase sales tax to pay for highways, mass transit and other projects.

“You’re going to have to start getting a lot of public support” for the Front Range proposal, Grauberger said.

He said that studies of costs, funding, governance plans and environmental reports are to be completed in six years.

After that voters will be asked to consider financing and the creation of a regional transportation district. Design and construction work would occur seven to 15 years after that.

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