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Front Range Passenger Rail District legislation advances in committee

Amtrak Front Range Rail
Amtrak

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) -- Colorado is one step closer to the creation of a Front Range Passenger Rail, after lawmakers advanced a bill this week that would create the necessary funding for the system.

Senate Bill 21-238, sponsored by Senate President Leroy Garcia (D - Pueblo), cleared the Senate Transportation and Energy Committee in a vote of 6-1 on Tuesday.

The legislation seeks to establish a Front Range Passenger Rail District, stretching from Wyoming to New Mexico. The district would consist of more than a dozen Colorado counties, including El Paso and Pueblo, with the ability to oversee the rail project's planning and development.

"This district is based on the commission's model to have 16 members, various experts including those who would be non-voting members including someone from Colorado Department of Transportation, Amtrak and the BNSF," Garcia said.  

Most notably, a board of directors would have the authority to levy an 0.8% sales tax hike to fund operations. If established, the board would hold its first meeting by May, 2022.

"We would hope that this commission would be ready to hit the ground running. Again, it's with a number of experts who see this as an opportunity." 

This follows an earlier announcement from the Biden Administration, proposing a $2 trillion infrastructure and jobs plan, with $80 billion assigned to Amtrak rail repairs, improvements and more than 30 new route expansions, including a route from Pueblo to Cheyenne, Wyoming.

"I think we're very ripe for that conversation, given the conjunction. I think we can continue to invest in transportation, roads and bridges, but we have to to be wiling to have a conversation about the future of transportation in Colorado," Garcia said.

RELATED: Biden infrastructure plan offers promising sign for Front Range passenger rail system

During a news conference earlier in April, Amtrak CEO Bill Flynn and President Stephen Gardner reinforced their commitment to partnering with Colorado on the project, noting its level of priority, regardless of additional funding from the Biden Administration.

RELATED: Amtrak, Colorado Front Range Commission discuss future passenger rail plans

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Jen Moynihan

Jen Moynihan is a weekend anchor and reporter for KRDO. Learn more about Jen here.

Comments

4 Comments

  1. So several million people are going to pay almost another one percent in sales taxes to subsidize a few hundred people taking a train from Colorado Springs to Denver or Fort Collins to Boulder. Forget New Mexico and Wyoming– no one from there will ride it– what commute from Trinidad to Albuquerque?. Yeah right!

  2. Great, another heavily subsidized mode of transportation that no one will use. Here’s an idea, let the train run with no subsidizes and make it rely solely on the fairs it collects.

  3. This is a textbook example of a one-party system. The socialist in Denver get what THEY want and spend spend spend. This train will be managed like the Post Office, AMTRAK, the Kennedy Center, and other entities that require annual subsidies and bailouts because they are not self-sustaining. I hope the citizens of CO get an opportunity to VOTE on this money-pit idea.

  4. What about the feasibility study they did that said it was a money pit? That of operated by Amtrak they couldn’t make a profit or break even so the State of Colorado would have to subsidize the rail project and service for life. So the new tax will never go away and if anything it will increase over the years.
    Plus just like the “Gap” project. It will go way over budget and the anticipated timeline. Then they will be asking for more money to finish the losing project they started. They will appeal to voters that we can stop now and lose our investment……
    It is another transportation scam just like the gap. They will say one thing and after approval deliver something totally different.

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