Former potential buyer of Tennessee Pass line drops interest in the venture |

Former potential buyer of Tennessee Pass line drops interest in the venture

Plan originally was to run grain from the plains to the west

A firm that once tried to buy the Tennessee Pass rail line has dropped its interest in the project.
Daily archive photo
Three facts • The Tennessee Pass line runs about 160 iles, from just west of Canon City to just west of Eagle. • The line runs through Chaffee, Lake and Eagle counties. • The line, owned by Union Pacific Railroad has been dormant since the mid-1990s.

A company has dropped its efforts to buy the unused Tennessee Pass rail line.

The family-owned firm KCVN is based in New York, and owns thousands of acres of farmland in eastern Colorado and Nebraska, as well as several short-haul rail lines. Those lines haul grain from, roughly, Pueblo to Garden City, Kansas. The company recently purchased the San Luis Valley line, which it has renamed Colorado Pacific Rio Grande Railroad. The Tennessee Pass line — dormant since the 1990s — would also have been operated by Colorado Pacific.

In a text message, company Vice Chairman Hayden Soloviev wrote that his father, Stefan, “has many different things to focus on at the moment,” including a firm called Weskan Grain.

Those farming interests led the company to seek a more competitive way to get grain from the nation’s agricultural heartland to the west coast.

Hayden Soloviev in a text noted that KCVN still hauls grain from railheads in farm country to a junction just northeast of Pueblo, then to the “most competitive route.”

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The Tennessee Pass line is currently owned by the Union Pacific Railroad. That firm in 2020 rejected Colorado Pacific’s $10 million purchase offer for the line. A firm called Colorado, Midland & Pacific Railway and Union Pacific on Dec. 31, 2020, announced a lease deal for the line.

As part of the Colorado Pacific proposal, the firm floated the possibility of running limited passenger trains on the line. The line between Pueblo and Eagle was once a major passenger connection between Eagle County and Colorado’s Front Range.

Colorado Midland’s proposal focused more on passenger traffic. Others expressed concern that the line could be used to transport crude oil to the Front Range from wells in Utah’s Uinta Basin. At the time, Sarah Thompson Cassidy, a spokeswoman for Colorado Midland, told the Eagle County Board of Commissioners the firm had “no intention, no plans and no means to operate oil trains on the corridor.”

Part of the Surface Transportation Board’s evaluation of the two proposals for the line also included a number of public comments from Chaffee County residents, who worried about the impacts of reviving the line after it had sat silent for roughly a quarter-century.

In a comment to the Surface Transportation Board, Chaffee County resident Michelle Millsap worried that reviving the line after so long could have a negative effect on property values. Millsap also noted that reviving the line could create a barrier to access of public lands, including the Brown’s Canyon National Monument.

Another resident, James Burnham noted that “no one relies on those tracks. The railroad would bring little to the table for those who live in its path, aside from noise, and pollution.”

While Colorado Midland had requested an expedited approval, the Surface Transportation rejected that request. A decision from March 2021 states that due to the “highly controversial” nature of the request, more detailed analysis was needed.

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