Today the Southwest Chief Rail Line Economic Development, Rural Tourism and Infrastructure Repair and Maintenance Commission released its formal Final Report Regarding Funding that was prepared for the Legislature's Joint Budget Committee. The Governor-appointed Southwest Chief Commission is legally tasked with negotiating costs, and saving the Southwest Chief Amtrak rail line thru Colorado, while also exploring adding additional stops in Pueblo and Walsenburg.See related PDF
The Final Report Regarding Funding outlines how the Commission has worked to get Colorado's cost allocation down to $8.91 million, instead of the previously anticipated $40 million. Savings come from the successful TIGER grant last year that 12 Southeastern Colorado communities collaborated on, and from successful negotiations with the BNSF Railway. The other significant cost savings was realized because the BNSF railway has now agreed to accept the full financial responsibility for annual track maintenance on the La Junta sub, which includes the entirety of the stretch of the Southwest Chief line through Colorado, excluding the Raton Pass. The $8.91 price tag is actually a third of the total remaining cost, however, it is expected that Amtrak and BNSF will also participate in cost-sharing.
The Southwest Chief Commission formally adopted the report at its meeting last week at the State Capitol. Senate Bill 176 has been introduced by Senators Leroy Garcia (D-Pueblo) and Larry Crowder (R-Alamosa) to appropriate the $8.91 million to finalize saving the line through Colorado. The next task of the Southwest Chief Commission will be to work on connecting the route through Pueblo and Walsenburg.