Colorado Springs residents can weigh in on a future site of a passenger rail station before the city makes its final selection next month.
The train station could serve Amtrak trains and a future commuter-rail service planned to serve cities along the Front Range, including Colorado Springs, Pueblo, Denver, Boulder and Fort Collins.
The city of Colorado Springs probably will not play a large role in building the station but was asked to select a preferred site, said Brian Vitulli, planning supervisor for the Transit Service Division. He expects to forward a report with the preferred site to the Front Range Passenger Rail District and the Colorado Department of Transportation next month. He noted that plans for a station are conceptual at this time and could change in the coming years.
The six sites in the final running are all downtown, where riders would have easy access to other public transportation options and numerous new hotels, he said.
"You really want a station to be at the center of commerce and activity," Vitulli said.
The city's top choice among the six is a vacant lot south of the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Museum, very close to a downtown shuttle stop, he said.
Its second choice is the historic train depot buildings, along South Sierra Madre Street, a location with significant nostalgia and interest from the current building owners, he said.
Another option could be the Martin Drake Power Plant site, but it has some challenges. The plant still needs to be fully decommissioned, torn down, and the site remediated for environmental contamination, so it may not be available in time to put up a new train station, he said.
The state has put the wheels in motion for a passenger rail line by creating a new district with taxing authority to fund the service. The district is still in its early stages and is not ready to put a tax increase before voters in November, said Jill Gaebler, a district board member. The new district must first complete a service-development plan that will determine how frequently trains will run and their hours before going to the ballot, she said.
Putting a tax increase before voters will require a two-thirds majority of the board to ensure those representing more southern portions of the district including Colorado Springs and Pueblo are on board, she said.
Education ahead of a vote also is key to help understand how train service could help supplement Interstate 25 and ensure reliability.
"We have a lot of work to do in regards to listening to the people of the corridor," Gaebler said.
To weigh in on a survey that closes on Friday, visit coloradosprings.gov/project/passenger-rail-station-location-study.
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