Committee Passes Bill to Establish Passenger Rail for Colorado

Written by David C. Lester, Editor-in-Chief
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City of Golden, Colo.

DENVER –– The Denver House Transportation, Housing & Local Government Committee this week passed legislation aimed at leveraging millions in federal infrastructure funding to bring passenger rail service to Colorado and expanding public transportation options across the state. SB24-184 passed by a vote of 8-3.

SB24-184 would implement a congestion impact fee to offset climate impacts and mitigate the congestion, and wear and tear on Colorado’s roads caused by rental vehicles. Revenue from the fee would create a sustainable funding source to be used as a matching source for federal investment opportunities for statewide transit and rail, as well as other forms of public transportation.

The bill would encourage RTD, Front Range Passenger Rail, and the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) to coordinate efforts to secure the funding needed to establish passenger rail service from Denver to Fort Collins, while exploring near-term opportunities to fund regional transit and rail projects along the Front Range, through Southern Colorado and up to the mountains. 

It would also direct the Colorado Transportation Investment Office (CTIO) to use three studies in the near term to fund regionally important transit and rail services originating from the Front Range Passenger Rail Service Development Plan, the Mountain Corridor Service Development Plan, and the Statewide Connectivity Study that aims to build a more comprehensive statewide bus system, building on the successes of Bustang, Snowstang and Pegasus.

Finally, the bill encourages CTIO to fund a full suite of multimodal infrastructure projects, including bus and passenger rail, and would require a new, multimodal strategic capital plan that aligns with CDOT’s ten-year plan, statewide transit plans, greenhouse gas pollution reduction goals, and other greenhouse gas reduction priorities and pollution reduction planning standards.

“Once in a generation federal infrastructure funding is giving us the opportunity to build an expanded passenger rail system that will create the transportation options Coloradans have been asking for,” said Speaker Julie McCluskie. “In addition to creating transit that reduces traffic and air pollution, passenger rail projects, including Mountain Rail, will create Colorado jobs and boost economies throughout the state. This bill is a long time in the making, and I am excited to make significant progress towards passenger rail infrastructure.”

“Front Range Passenger Rail will make it easier to connect my community in Fort Collins down to Denver, Colorado Springs, Pueblo and even into the Rocky Mountains,” said Rep. Andrew Boesenecker. “By creating additional transportation options, we’re giving Coloradans more choices that can also reduce our carbon emissions and save people money. This legislation is an exciting step to build a safe and reliable passenger rail system in Colorado.”

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