Route through Springs not in first-phase recommendation for state high-speed rail plan

       A state high-speed rail study recommends that the first phase of the Front Range segment should be built from Fort Collins only as far south as the Briargate neighborhood of Colorado Springs.

Standing momentarily between the projector and the screen, consultant Beth Vogelsang casts a shadow while the light of a slide is cast upon her during a presentation Nov. 20 at the Westside's Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments building that revealed findings by the Interregional Connectivity Study (ICS) for a state high-speed rail plan.
Westside Pioneer photo

       State planners believe that package - which includes an east-west segment to Eagle County and a station at the Denver International Airport - would be the "best performer" (in terms of ridership, revenue and cost), according to information presented at a public meeting Nov. 20.
       A precise location in Briargate has not been determined.
       An "optimistic" timetable for the Fort Collins-to-Briargate phase would have construction starting in 2020, with service actually starting in 2026, said Don Ulrich, lead consultant on the study effort for the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT).
       To reach that outcome, about $10 billion would be needed for construction, the study shows. An estimated half of that would be needed from the federal government, along with a 1 percent sales tax in the 16 Colorado counties that stand to benefit. Actual operation could pay for itself - with the help of taxes - based on studies showing a high number of citizens who are willing to pay a relatively high fare in exchange for high speeds (200 mph or more), Ulrich said.
       Through Colorado Springs itself, the concept that's been talked about (but is considered unrealistic) is a railroad viaduct paralleling I-25 and requiring private and public right of way the entire way, according to Ulrich and fellow presenters David Krutsinger, CDOT program manager for what's technically called the Interregional Connectivity Study (ICS); and Beth Vogelsang of OV Consulting.
       The original overall project "vision" had been for high-speed rail between Fort Collins and Pueblo.
       No dates for the Colorado Springs-to-Pueblo phase are suggested in the current study.
       The thinking behind the ICS effort includes the concern that state population is predicted to increase from 5 million to 8 million by 2035, and the capacity for added lanes on major roads is limited.

Westside Pioneer article