By Pam Zubeck, Colorado Springs Independent
As the population on the Front Range grows, it’s time to find a way to move people without making highways even wider.
Enter the Southwest Chief & Front Range Passenger Rail Commission. The commission has teamed with the Colorado Department of Transportation to request proposals to study the feasibility of a passenger rail line, and other multimodal options, to link Pueblo, Colorado Springs and Fort Collins to Denver.
The 173-mile corridor contains 85 percent of the state’s population, so the study would look at how the railroad could support future growth and provide reliable transportation, the commission said in a release.
“The Commission is excited to explore how passenger rail can bring sustainable and real congestion relief along our Front Range,” Colorado Springs City Councilor Jill Gaebler, Southwest Chief & Front Range Passenger Rail Chair, said in the release. “As our population grows, the I-25 corridor will continue to be a vital link to our economy, moving people and goods while improving connectivity and allowing Colorado to flourish.”
The study would:
• Identify different multimodal options to expand transportation options.
• Consider a range of technology alternatives for expanding transportation options.
• Streamline multiple required review processes, including the rail passenger service development plan document mandated by the Federal Railroad Administration and environmental review required by the National Environmental Policy Act process.
“To meet the growing needs of our state, Colorado needs a robust, energy efficient, sustainable transportation system that incorporates different modes of travel and provides more choices for the movement of people and goods,” CDOT Executive Director Shoshana Lew said in the release.
The commission noted the Front Range’s population is forecast to grow from 4.9 million people in 2020 to 6.6 million in 2045.
El Paso County will see growth of 39 percent from 0.7 million to over 1 million, and Pueblo County will grow 27 percent from 0.17 million to 0.22 million.