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Vail, county back rail study

Melanie Wong
Vail, CO Colorado

EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado ” Is a state-wide, high-speed rail system economically, logistically and technologically feasible?

The town of Vail and Eagle County are pitching in with other members of the Rocky Mountain Rail Authority, a coalition of governments, and the Colorado Department of Transportation to find out.

The year-long study, which starts this week, will look at the possibility of a rail system along the Interstate 70 and Interstate 25 corridors.



If, when the study is completed in mid-2009, the results show that a high-speed rail system ” or a train that goes between 90 mph and 250 mph ” might be feasible, Colorado could be eligible for special federal funding to build the system.

“High-speed rail is an option that some believe could be part of a comprehensive solution to Colorado’s growing transportation crisis, which is why we are conducting this critical study,” said rail authority chairman Harry Dale, also a Clear Creek County commissioner.



More than 45 organizations, counties and towns across the state are on board with the study. The Colorado Department of Transportation funded $1.5 million of the cost of the study, and the other members of the authority pitched in for the rest.

The study will look at everything from whether there is enough demand, to what technologies are available, to the terrain the rail would have to traverse.

Other studies have been done on a possible rail system, but this is the most comprehensive thus far, said Eagle County Engineer Greg Schroeder.



“This will go into a lot of detail ” what ridership will be, how long it will take, and alignments,” he said. “There’s a lot of momentum going with this.”

Vail Town Manager Stan Zemler said that momentum and the statewide support makes the study promising.

“This study is more driven by an organized group,” he said.

The idea of a rail brings up a host of other issues, such as the growth a system could bring, and funding ” the area will have to wait and see what the study says, Zemler said.

“There are a lot of questions, but it’s exciting. It’s progress,” he said.

Routt County Commissioner Diane Mitsch Busch, a member of the authority’s executive committee, said the passenger service could reduce traffic congestion on the highways and vehicle emissions.

The Rail Authority is also talking to Wyoming officials, who are looking into rail service.

Rocky Mountain Rail Authority: http://rockymountainrail.org/

The Associated Press contributed to this article. Staff Writer Melanie Wong can be reached at 970-748-2928 or mwong@vaildaily.com.


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