COLORADO SPRINGS, Co. (KRDO) -- Amtrak and the Colorado Front Range Commission hosted their first roundtable discussion Monday, since announcing plans for a passenger rail along the Front Range, from Pueblo to Cheyenne, Wyoming.
Amtrak CEO Bill Flynn and President Stephen Gardner reinforced their commitment to partnering with Colorado on the project, which has been in the works since 2017.
"There's no question if Congress can enact something like what the President has proposed, we'll have huge opportunities to accelerate investment and address what we think is a nationwide need," Gardner said.
Under the Biden Administration's $2 trillion infrastructure and jobs plan, $80 billion would be assigned to Amtrak rail repairs, improvements and more than 30 new route expansions.
"Pueblo is the biggest producer of rail in the U.S. and [is] building another rail mill right now as we speak," Front Range Commission Vice Chair Sal Pace said.
Pueblo and Colorado Springs both stand to reap the benefits of a Front Range route, connecting Southern Colorado to Cheyenne.
"Colorado Springs also has five military installations in and around it. In trying to support our partner, our military partners, and trying to create resiliency and reliability for them, rail becomes especially important," Jill Gaebler said, Front Range Commission and Colorado Springs council member.
According to Gaebler, 85 percent of the state's growth is occurring along the Front Range, prompting the need for an I-25 transportation alternative.
Commissioners also pointed to new legislative support in Colorado.
A bill introduced by Senate President Leroy Garcia (D- Pueblo) on Friday, would create Front Range rail districts throughout the state to provide additional funding.
"So that Colorado can create a governing authority to partner with Amtrak," Pace said.
These districts would allow Colorado voters to set tax rates to help pay for the rail project. However, service is still estimated to be at least 10 years away.