If the people of the Front Range want to tax themselves to study and build passenger rail, we will wave fondly up to them and wish them luck.
Down here, this is a win-win proposition.
The Colorado Department of Transportation announced recently that it is soliciting bids for a passenger train route from Fort Collins to Trinidad, roughly along the Interstate 25 corridor. “To meet the growing needs of our state, Colorado needs a robust, energy efficient, sustainable transportation system that incorporates different modes of travel and provides more choices for the movement of people and goods,” said CDOT Executive Director Shoshana Lew in a prepared statement.
I-25 is routinely bottle-necked between Colorado Springs and Denver, filling all four lanes. The state, under pressure from lawmakers and commuters, which are not exclusive groups, has floated numerous costly proposals to widen the highway, even though many engineers say it could end up making traffic worse owing to induced demand. Money for it has been included in transportation tax questions, which we have supported, in part because there was money for roads in the Southwest as well.
A rail alternative of that length would be a boon for many, but it, too, would be a massive, costly undertaking, as Colorado Public radio noted. Yet what keeps us from saying, “Look at what just happened with high-speed rail in California!” is that it is practically none of our business.
CDOT will present rail plans to the Legislature early in the next session, hoping lawmakers will refer funding to the 2020 ballot.
Wait – what funding?
This is the beauty: The question will only go to voters in a new Front Range tax district.
We can imagine how frustrating it is to sit in unmoving traffic twice a day, watching plants grow and being passed by pedestrians, which is one of the reasons we live down here. If they want to tax themselves to build a train on the Front Range, they should give it a go. We assume they will have more details before taking a plunge.