Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Colorado high-speed rail technically, not financially, feasible

The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) has issued two draft reports summarizing the feasibility of high-speed transit systems in both the Interstate 70 Mountain Corridor and I-25 Front Range Corridor.

Both studies, conducted by CDOT's Division of Transit and Rail (DTR) and a team of outside experts, confirmed high-speed transit is technically feasible in both corridors, but not financially feasible in either corridor at this time.

"It is clear that we currently lack the financial capacity to build either of these projects," said DTR Director Mark Imhoff. "However, the studies show that a statewide system could provide many benefits to the businesses, individuals and tourists that depend on our interstates and provide a roadmap for capitalizing on improvements in the local, state and federal financial climates when they happen."

The studies envision a statewide system with up to 340 miles of high-speed transit between Fort Collins and Pueblo and between Denver International Airport (DIA) and Eagle County. With travel speeds of 90 to 180 mph, the system could save about one-fourth to two-thirds from the time it takes to drive the same trips in optimal travel conditions. The system is forecast to serve 18 to 19 million passengers a year in 2035.

Preliminary capital cost estimates range from $75 million per mile on the Front Range to $105 million per mile in the Mountain Corridor, with an estimated $30 billion price tag for the whole system. CDOT believes that a maximum of $1 to $3 billion could be obtained in private financing, leaving a capital-cost gap of billions of dollars. New local, state and federal funds would be needed to cover the shortfall.

CDOT does not plan to make any commitments at this time, but will weigh the pros and cons with local, regional and federal partners.

 

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