DENVER — A passenger railway that would connect communities from Pueblo to Fort Collins is one step closer to becoming a reality. The Front Range Passenger Rail project is on a list to receive federal money as part of the bipartisan infrastructure bill.
The Federal Railroad Administration announced earlier this week that the project would receive $500,000 in funding to kickstart the necessary grant applications to move closer to construction.
"It also keeps us in the queue now for the bigger federal dollars that will eventually come down to help us really see to fruition the idea of Front Range Passenger Rail," Pueblo County Commissioner Daneya Esgar, who serves on the Front Range Passenger Rail District Board of Directors, explained.
That queue is known as the Federal Railroad Administration's Corridor ID program. The federal funding for the Colorado project is one of nearly 70 rail improvements nationwide that's in the pipeline.
"The federal dollars will help really start those conversations and backfill what we need to actually bring forward the infrastructure that's necessary," Esgar said.
Gov. Jared Polis sounded optimistic about the project's future at a press event in Lakewood Thursday.
"The numbers work thanks to the record investment from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Act, and we're committed to making that happen here in Colorado," Polis said.
The goal of the new passenger rail line is to reduce air pollution and ease traffic congestion along Interstate 25 by creating an alternate form of transportation.
"It will compete on time and cost," Polis said. "It'll get you where you want to go faster, going 70, 80, perhaps 90 miles per hour in certain stretches; Denver to Ft. Collins probably 40 minutes, Denver to Colorado Springs about an hour. That's what we need to do."
Voters in communities who would be served by the Front Range Passenger Rail could be asked next November whether they want to incur a tax to financially support the project.
The the Front Range Passenger Rail District Board of Directors will decide by April whether or not to put the tax on the ballot next November.