August 8, 2013 Updated: August 10, 2013 at 8:25 am
Colorado Springs trolley supporters are trying to stop the city from pulling up a section of railroad tracks on Constitution Avenue.
The loss of those tracks, said Dave Lippincott, president of the Pikes Peak Historic Street Railway Foundation, means a projected extension of a proposed downtown trolley to the east would likely be killed.
"That would be dead," he said. "There's no viable way for us to do that" because of the exorbitant cost - millions of dollars - to install new tracks.
The foundation has the franchise rights to put a trolley in Colorado Springs.
It's getting no sympathy from city officials.
The project has been on the books for several years, said Curt DeCapite, the city's procurement services manager. The old railroad track runs alongside the Rock Island Trail.
"It was leaking, it was rusting," DeCapite said. "This is a good clean-up project."
It's also pumping up city coffers.
The city contracted with Rail Ryder Track Services to remove about three miles of railroad tracks and spikes from Templeton Gap to Academy Boulevard. The city will be paid $125,000 for the tracks, which were given to Colorado Springs a long time ago, DeCapite said.
Lippincott said he has fired out letters and called city officials.
He contends that the city in April 2012 wanted to remove the tracks, but stopped when trolley supporters intervened.
"We got it killed," he said. "And we were assured at that time that the removal was off the table."
DeCapite confirmed he has been contacted by Lippincott, who told him about the pledge not to remove the tracks, but he couldn't find written or verbal evidence that such a promise was made.
"We are moving forward with this project," DeCapite said. "We were advised to continue."
The project was delayed Thursday because of rain.
It's a big hit for trolley supporters, who were steaming ahead on plans to acquire downtown property for a headquarters and rail hub.
Lippincott declined to identify that property.
If the tracks were left, 80 percent could be salvaged by being straightened and adding new ties, Lippincott said.
"Once that rail comes up, there's no going back," Lippincott said. "It would be terribly expensive to put it back."