High-speed mountain train by 2015? | AspenTimes.com

High-speed mountain train by 2015?

Alison Miller
Vail correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado

EAGLE COUNTY ” Hopping a train and taking in the scenery on the way to Denver or Grand Junction could soon be an option for motorists who are weary from traveling along the long and winding roads of Interstate 70.

The Rocky Mountain Rail Authority, based out of Westminster, wants to establish high-speed commuter rail from Denver International Airport along the I-70 corridor to Grand Junction.

“Our goal is to have a train that can travel at 125 miles per hour and will make stops at all the ski resorts along Interstate 70,” said Bob Briggs, executive director of Rocky Mountain Rail Authority. “It is exciting to think about, and it’s something we think is really needed.”

The rail authority also is working on building rail from Casper, Wyo., to Albuquerque, N.M.

For some, it’s a pie-in-the-sky goal but would be a welcome amenity if it can be done.

If voters statewide approve a 2008 ballot initiative led by a blue-ribbon commission developed by Gov. Bill Ritter to study commuter rail throughout Colorado, the system could be built by 2015, Briggs said.

The first step in making the dream a reality was raising enough money to conduct a feasibility study to determine where best to build a track and what type of track to use, Briggs said.

The rail authority has raised $311,000 from communities that would be affected by the trains as a 20 percent match to $1.25 million the Colorado Department of Transportation granted the authority for the feasibility study, Briggs said.

Summit and Garfield counties have given money to help fund the initial study, as did the Roaring Fork Regional Transportation Authority, Briggs said.

“Now that we have the funding we need, we are going to take the next step and determine how this can be done,” Briggs said. “There’s still a lot that needs to be figured out, like if we should try to go up and over mountains along the way or just poke holes through for tunnels.”

The goal of the rail authority is to use trains and tracks of advanced technology similar to the commuter train system in Japan, Briggs said. The “advanced line” will run from the Denver airport to Dotsero before switching to a track that is compatible with the existing ones, he said.

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