Posts Tagged ‘Colorado Front Range’

Colo. Rail Projects Gets More Funding

September 30, 2020

A recent federal grant awarded to fund a study of intercity rail passenger along Colorado’s Front Range will be bolstered by $137,000 from state and local government agencies.

The Southwest Chief and Front Range Passenger Rail Commission, Pueblo County, city of Trinidad, and Colorado chapter of the Rail Passengers Association will provide that money to match the $548,000 received from a federal Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements Grant.

“This funding will ensure that the Front Range Passenger Rail Project can move forward into detailed stages that will help determine specific engineering and operational challenges as well as give us a far better understanding of potential benefits and costs,” said Randy Grauberger, project director for the commission.

That study will examine the types of equipment, technology and infrastructure the corridor will require for passenger operations.

Also part of the review will be an assessment of revenue projections, suggested service frequencies and estimated benefits.

Planners are expected to recommend a governance structure for the rail operator.

Colo. DOT Seeking Comment on Front Range Plan

July 3, 2020

The Colorado Department of Transportation is soliciting public views on a proposed plan to provide intercity rail passenger service along the state’s Front Range of the Rocky Mountains.

The agency has created a website for those interested to comment.

Comments are being accepted through July 31.

The long-range plan envisions service along a 173-mile route from Fort Collins to Pueblo.

Respondents will be asked how often they might use the service, what is most important to influence them to use it, such as travel time or fares, and see options for potential routes.

Amtrak Service to Colorado Springs to be Studied

March 3, 2020

The U.S. Department of transportation had awarded a $225,000 grant to be used to study extending a section of Amtrak’s Southwest Chief to Colorado Springs, Colorado.

The study would be an extension of ongoing efforts to bring Amtrak service to Pueblo, Colorado.

Colorado Springs Councilwoman Jill Gaebler, who serves on the Southwest Chief and Front Range Passenger Rail Commission, said Amtrak proposed extending the Pueblo service to Colorado Springs, which is the second largest city in the state.

Colorado Springs has not had intercity rail passenger service since 1971.

“They approached us about the idea of not just having the spur go up to Pueblo, but then come the extra 30 miles into Colorado Springs,” Gaebler said.

She said the feasibility study will determine the costs of providing service to Pueblo and Colorado Springs.

Gaebler said a side benefit of the study would be to consider the cost of rebuilding the rail infrastructure needed for a passenger rail line from Pueblo to Fort Collins via Denver.

Key Colorado Lawmaker Opposes Passenger Rail Plan

January 11, 2020

An influential Colorado lawmaker is opposed to developing intercity passenger rail along the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains.

House Speaker K.C. Becker (D-Boulder) said she is “absolutely not supportive” of the passenger train system proposed by the governor, saying “there’s a whole lot of work that needs to happen before folks explore” the idea.

Gov. Jared Polis is backing a Front Range passenger rail system, which he said would reduce highway traffic and move the state’s transportation system into the 21st century.

However, Becker said that she doesn’t favor developing intercity rail because transportation technology is evolving so rapidly and “we cannot predict what will be needed in the future and that what we are using now could be obsolete in 10 years.”

Becker’s position means that the legislature is unlikely to take action this year on a bill to create a special tax district to help fund Front Range rail.

The Front Range proposal, whose has been estimated at $5 billion, would establish rail between the Wyoming border to Trinidad, Colorado, via Pueblo, Colorado Springs, Denver and Fort Collins.

This region contains most of the state’s population.

Trinidad Failed to Land BUILD Grant for SW Chief Work

November 23, 2019

A bid by Trinidad, Colorado, for a federal BUILD grant to continue the rehabilitation of the BNSF route used by Amtrak’s Southwest Chief has fallen short.

Trinidad had sought $16 million for the Southwest Chief Route Improvement Project but that application was not approved by the U.S. Department of Transportation, which recently announced its most recent round of BUILD grants.

Various government entities in Kansas, Colorado and New Mexico in recent years have won federal funding to rebuild the route used by the Chief.

It is not clear what the failure of Trinidad to land the grant will mean for the efforts to rehabilitate the route of the Chicago-Los Angeles train.

Several years ago BNSF said it wouldn’t maintain the route in the three states to passenger train speeds because it seldom uses most of it for freight service.

That prompted the 2014 creation of a campaign to save the Chief by landing a series of grants to repair the tracks.

In a related development, Colorado officials are seeking another federal grant to pay for a study of creating a section of the Chief to serve Pueblo and Colorado Springs.

The Southwest Chief currently stops in Colorado in Lamar, La Junta and Trinidad.

Pueblo officials have in recent years sought to have the route of Nos. 3 and 4 changed to serve their city. The Chief currently does not pass through Pueblo.

Pueblo and Colorado Springs have been without intercity rail passenger service since the Santa Fe discontinued a Denver-La Junta connecting train on May 1, 1971.

That train connected with Santa Fe’s Super Chief/El Capitan, which is the ancestor of Amtrak’s Southwest Chief.

The plan to serve Colorado Springs would in effect reinstate that long ago discontinued connecting service.

That service is seen as part of a larger effort to restore intercity rail passenger along Colorado’s Front Range to as far north as Fort Collins.

The grant application indicates that Colorado section of the Southwest Chief would be designed to potentially connect to a Front Range passenger rail system in the future.

Front Range Service Still Years Away

August 19, 2019

Expanded intercity rail passenger service along Colorado’s Front Range is years away if it ever materializes attendees at a recent Southwest Chief Passenger Rail Commission meeting were told.

The commission recently held a public forum in Pueblo, Colorado, that commission officials described as the largest public turnout they had at such events. Attendance was described as “dozens.”

The commission’s next step is to provide the Colorado legislature with the findings of its feasibility studies during the 2020 legislative session.

The expansion would create new service between Fort Collins to Trinidad, which is a stop for Amtrak’s Chicago-Los Angeles Southwest Chief.

It is being billed as a way to relieve highway congestion in a region that is home to 85 percent of the state’s  population.

The 173-mile Front Range corridor is expected to see population growth of 35 percent in the next 25 years with much of it occurring in El Paso County and counties east and north of Denver.

Pueblo has not had intercity rail service since 1971.

Grauberger Pushing for Colorado Rail Service

April 4, 2019

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.

Colorado Funding Passenger Fund

May 16, 2018

The Colorado legislature has approved $2.5 million to be used to promote passenger rail development.

The funding will go to the Southwest Chief and Front Range Rail Commission, which is seeking to extend passenger rail service to communities along the Rocky Mountains, including Pueblo and Colorado Springs.

The group is eyeing a section of Amtrak’s Southwest Chief between Trinidad and Pueblo, Colorado. It is also studying a separate rail service that would extend between Trinidad and Fort Collins via Pueblo, Colorado Springs and Denver.

Cost estimates to implement both rail services are $70 million.

The money appropriated by lawmakers will be used for community outreach, planning and other start-up costs.

The Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe had a connecting train between Denver and La Junta until the coming of Amtrak in May 1971.

Front Range Commission to Draft Rail Legislation

November 8, 2017

A commission studying the institution of intercity rail passenger service on the Interstate 25 corridor in Colorado has presented its findings to the state legislature’s Joint Transportation Committee.

The Front Range Rail Commission has detailed how to implement rail service between Trinidad and Fort Collins.

The next step will be for the Commission to draft legislation to present to the Colorado legislature by Dec. 1.
Pueblo County Commissioner Sal Pace said the Commission still need to research how the rail route would best serve the needs of Colorado residents.

That include making a determination about whether to locate the Denver station downtown or at the Denver International Airport.

Colorado Commission Eyes Rail Expansion

September 5, 2017

A Colorado commission is studying a reroute of Amtrak’s Southwest Chief via Pueblo.

The study is part of a larger effort to restore rail passenger service along the Front Range of the Rockies between Fort Collins and Trinidad.

The commission faces a Dec. 1 deadline to submit its plan to the state legislature and is working with the Colorado Department of Transportation.

Intercity rail passengers between Denver and Front Range points south of the city ended on May 1, 1971, when a Santa Fe connecting train between Denver and La Juanta, Colorado, was discontinued.

Officials are eyeing a commuter rail service between Pueblo and Fort Collins, Colorado, which would cost an estimated $5 billion to $15 billion, said David Krutsinger, deputy director of CDOT’s transit and rail program.

Rerouting the Southwest Chief via Colorado would require rehabilitating 50 miles of track and it is not clear where the millions of dollars in funding for that would come from.

An estimated 14,000 passengers a year would use the Chief if it served Pueblo.