State Lawmakers Approve Front Range Rail Exploration

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The state's Southwest Chief commission, tasked with preserving Amtrak's Southwest Chief long-distance passenger rail route through southern Colorado, is set to expand its mission.

The Southwest Chief Commission was set to sunset this summer.

A new bill passed in the statehouse extends its life and expands it to begin exploring possibilities for a new front range rail service.

Pueblo County Commissioner Sal Pace chairs the state committee. He says investing in passenger rails has proven to be good for the economy.

"Across the country, as people have created new passenger rail or light rail stops, the areas around those stops have seen significant economic growth," Pace says.

Pace says as Colorado's population increases, passenger rail is becoming necessary, even as the state plans to widen I-25. 

The bill now goes to Governor John Hickenlooper for his signature.