Front Range Rail Study Passes First Legislative Hurdle

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UPDATE: 2/16/17. The Senate Finance committee passed SB-153 on a 4-1 vote. The bill now heads to the full Senate.

Original post 2/14/17:

A proposal to study whether it's viable to create passenger rail from southern Colorado to Fort Collins has cleared its first hurdle at the state legislature.

Senate Bill 153 would expand a commission that was set up to preserve the existing Amtrak Southwest Chief line in southern Colorado. Now the state wants to consider Front Range rail and extend that existing line.

Democratic Senator Leroy Garcia of Pueblo is one of the main sponsors of the bipartisan bill.

"Look, we talk a lot about supporting rural communities in Colorado," said Garcia.

Garcia says the bill would do that and connect the urban core.

Trinidad Mayor Phil Rico testified at the hearing that the measure would boost visitors to his town and ease the state's traffic congestion.

"You know there's going to be a huge expansion of population over the next several years from what I understand, and it's going to just crowd the I-25 corridor," said Rico.

There were some concerns about whether something like this would be financially feasible depending on how much money the state would have to chip in.

The measure now heads to the Senate Finance Committee. 

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