Pueblo County is pledging $12,500 to help save Amtrak’s Southwest Chief rail link, which needs more than $50 million in repairs.
In Colorado, immediate repairs are needed in La Junta and Lamar to bring Southwest Chief up to standard speed, according to Paris Elliott, Pueblo County community information manager.
Southwest Chief, which travels through eight states between Chicago and Los Angeles every day and has stops in La Junta, Trinidad and Lamar, served 367,267 passengers in 2016.
Pueblo Board of County Commissioners passed the resolution pledging $12,500 Oct. 23. It is one of 24 communities across three states that have pledged a total of about $9.2 million in matching funds for the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery [TIGER] IX grant application.
The railway has been funded by the TIGER grant three times before, and groups gathered matching support funds each time. The leading applicant, Colfax County, New Mexico, applied again in October, hoping to receive funding $25 million for repairs in 2018.
If the application is successful, the TIGER IX grant will fund all repairs needed in Colorado.
Through the Department of Transportation, the TIGER IX grant awards funds for national road, rail, transit and port projects every year. Over eight years, the TIGER grant has awarded up to $5.1 billion in funds for projects affecting the nation, regions or metropolitan areas, including Southwest Chief.
For 2017, around $500 million will be awarded to projects nationwide.
According to the Pueblo County press release, transportation service and hundreds of jobs have been saved thanks to $21.7 million in community funds and $27.68 million from previously awarded TIGER grants.
Upgrades have been made to 46.9 miles of track, allowing Amtrak speeds up to 79 miles per hour.
Alongside the TIGER grant, the Front Range Rail Commission is working to add a through car to travel between the Pueblo Union Depot and La Junta, as a daily connection from Pueblo to the Southwest Chief.