COLORADO SPRINGS — The City of Colorado Springs is seeking public input on potential sites to build a train station for the Front Range Passenger Rail. The public comment period closes Friday.
Six sites have been identified by the staff at Mountain Metro Transit and the consulting firm HDR Incorporated due to their high suitability as passenger rail stations.
Two sites are located near the Old Depot Square, one on the east side of the tracks and the other on the west. Two other locations are under consideration at the Martin Drake Power Plant. Those sites would also be located either on the east or west side of the tracks.
A fifth location would be near the US Olympic and Paralympic Museum and Hall of Fame and America the Beautiful Park. The sixth is located near the railroad bridges that cross South Nevada Avenue and South Tejon Street.
Charles Ochs' family bought the Old Depot Square properties in 1971, just a few months after the last passenger train left the station.
"At that time I was 8 years old and I took the last trip from Colorado Springs to Pueblo," Ochs said.
He and his family have worked hard over the decades to preserve this part of the city's history. They recently completed a multi-million dollar renovation of the building opening multiple new restaurants during the COVID pandemic.
Ochs said it would be poetic to see passenger rail service return to the location.
"We've owned the building for 51 years, loved it, renovated it," said Ochs. "We have new retail shops, we have new restaurants, and we're talking about bringing back passenger service. That is full circle and that is exciting."
Colorado Springs City Councilman Wayne Williams explained that C-DOT asked the city to study locations downtown for a train station.
"We're asking people to give their input and let us know what their thoughts are," Williams said.
The city wants the location to be close to attractions like the USOPM and Weidner Field. They also want to incorporate access to other city services like the Mountain Metro buses.
Chris Proud of HDR, Inc. explained the internal ranking system used to evaluate the sites during a video presentation published online. The America the Beautiful Park site scored highest with the Old Depot Square East location ranking second.
"Our project team will be looking for that feedback once it closes on the 19th of August and looking to see how that influences the remainder of the project," Proud said.
Williams said the America the Beautiful Park site would create a strong first impression for visitors arriving in Colorado Springs on either the Front Range Passenger Rail or Amtrak's Southwest Chief, should a branch line be extended here.
Colorado lawmakers created the Front Range Passenger Rail special district last summer. However, a funding source to build the rail line between Pueblo and northern Colorado has not been identified.
The bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act that was signed by President Biden last August includes $66 billion for rail improvements. Executives with Amtrak had previously released a 15-year vision plan that included a new service line that connected Pueblo to Cheyenne, Wyoming.
"We don't know if it's actually going to go forward, but what we do know is that if it goes forward, we want to make sure that we've had the input and that's really what C-DOT's asked at this time," Williams said.
He also wants C-DOT to consider adding a second station in northern El Paso County to serve many of the commuters who currently drive up I-25 to the Denver metro for work.
This video discusses the benefits and challenges at each site.
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