A state commission has begun exploring ways to realize Colorado transportation officials' vision of passenger rail service stretching up and down the Front Range.
The commission, with government representatives from Denver to Trinidad, has until Dec. 1 to submit to the Legislature a plan detailing steps forward and funding options. The ultimate hope is a commuter rail that runs from Fort Collins to Pueblo, which probably would cost $5 billion to $15 billion, said David Krutsinger, deputy director of the Colorado Department of Transportation's transit and rail program.
The group also has a more immediate objective: rerouting Amtrak's Southwest Chief line, which runs through the state's southeastern corner, to include stops in Pueblo and Walsenburg, which officials say could be done in less than five years.
As politicians scrounge for money to repair Colorado's ailing highways, and leaders in the Pikes Peak region search for hundreds of millions of dollars to widen Interstate 25 between Monument and Castle Rock, the commission members see an opportunity to press a transportation solution that can sustain Colorado's exploding population.