Local authorities and the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) are beating the drum to raise a response from southern Colorado and Trinidad residents to give input on “a plan to develop passenger rail service along a 173-mile corridor from Fort Collins to Pueblo.”

The campaign to gather this input ends Friday, July 31, and authorities have done little to market their survey to southern Colorado.

Including the Southwest Chief spur, Trinidad could be directly impacted by the plan and it’s development.

To provide input on Front Range rail service, residents are asked to go to frontrangepassengerrailmeeting.com and complete the survey.

The project is being overseen by the Southwest Chief and Front Range Passenger Rail Commission, the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) and a consultant team.

The project is being framed as a “virtual meeting” where “Front Range residents will be able to weigh in on important questions such as how they might use the rail service and whether they would want trains to go faster or have more stops. The website also has useful information on the design options for the rail service, such as potential routes.

“The online meeting is being put on by the Front Range Passenger Rail project, which is drawing up plans for the rail service. Funding to complete the rail service has not been identified yet and could include a variety of options.”

Said Trinidad Mayor Phil Rico, “We’re trying to get input from our local people on this thing. It was started a few weeks back and they have had great response from the northern communities, so we need to try and drum up some input and support from the Trinidad area.”

Rico said it was important to get more people involved in the planning of passenger rail service and have their feelings hear. “People just need to get online and show their interest; positive, or negative,” said Rico. “This thing has been a roller coaster ride and it needs support from this area so we don’t get left behind.”

According to the Front Range Passenger Rail project, the project’s mission is “to provide a safe, efficient, and reliable transportation option for travel between major population centers and destinations along the Front Range and create a backbone for connecting and expanding rail and transit options in the state and region.”

Project developers said, “Though there have been previous studies of developing Front Range rail, the current project team is working to create an actual, tangible plan to bring the Front Range Passenger Rail to life. The online meeting expands on that work, including the evaluation of potential routes and operations.”

CDOT said that once the team evaluates service needs and wants, it can move on to more specific environmental and engineering planning. At a later point, with a better understanding of costs, funding streams could be identified for the project.

Tim Hoover from CDOT’s Office of Communication was asked why the project needed input now from southern Colorado.

“So far there’s been little response, not as much as we’d like to see anyway, from that region and we just want Trinidad folks to have a chance to respond,” said Hoover. “This is a service they could be using one day and there are discussions going on about what that service could be. It might link Trinidad and Pueblo. This is a service that Trinidad should weigh in on.”

Hoover urged people to take part in the survey as soon as possible.

“We want to demonstrate that we have had quality public outreach and have sought out ordinary people and got their input. We’re not looking for elected people and railroaded people with this. We need the public and all the public’s input before we can move ahead to more specific planning,” said Hoover.

CDOT said that it’s estimated that by year 2050, an additional 3 million people will be living and commuting along the Front Range, where four-fifths of Colorado’s population already lives.

“The Front Range Passenger Rail project is intended to provide sustainable and reliable travel options to meet the rapidly growing needs of the state while supporting multiple transportation, economic and environmental goals,” said CDOT.

To learn more about the project go to www.frontrangepassengerrail.com.   

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