Our View: Enough already with the high-speed rail
Like the story of aliens stashed away at Area 51, high-speed rail to mountain resorts is an idea that simply won’t die.
The Denver Business Journal recently reported that a coalition of government and business groups commissioned a study to look into the feasibility of a high-speed rail line to the mountains.
The study found there would be some benefits in economic activity and tax revenue. But it didn’t take into account the cost of the project. According to the article, a 2014 study estimated the cost of building high-speed rail from Denver International Airport to the Eagle County Regional Airport at between $10.8 and $32.4 billion. That’s money that currently exists nowhere but in the minds of backers.
We all want thriving businesses in our communities, and visitors are the lifeblood of robust mountain resorts. And it’s no secret that driving to and from the resorts can be time-consuming and aggravating enough to discourage some potential guests.
On the other hand, there are some silver linings to the dark clouds of congestion.
Here in the Vail Valley, we often hear complaints about crowded ski slopes on busy days. Do we really want easier access to what some say are already-crowded slopes, restaurants and lodges?
Then there’s the cost. Given the 2014 study’s estimates — with a broad enough cost swing to be better defined as a wild guess — do we really want to spend some wildly variable, currently unfunded 11-figure sum of money to create a 24/7/365 solution to what’s now a problem roughly 110 days per year?
That should be enough, but here’s one more thing to think about: new residents.
The recent study indicates that a rail line could bring more than 3,300 new residents to the corridor. Where might those people live?
Making Denver’s Union Station a 60-minute rail ride from Edwards or Avon will create a new population of commuters, people who may or may not become involved in the communities where they sleep.
Do we as a state want to take on that kind of financial commitment? Do we as local residents want to put even more pressure on already-squeezed local housing markets? Do we really want to turn our valley into a resort/suburb?
The Vail Daily Editorial Board is Publisher Mark Wurzer, Editor Nate Peterson, Assistant Editor Ross Leonhart, Eagle Valley Enterprise Editor Pam Boyd, Advertising Director Holli Snyder and Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller.