Nearly 5 years ago, the Colorado Department of Transportation put out a study exploring the possibility of building a high-speed rail route along the busy Interstate 70 Mountain Corridor.
That report, called the Advanced Guideway System Feasibility Study, looked at building such a route along a 120-mile segment of Interstate 70 between Colorado State Highway 470 in Jefferson County and the Eagle County Regional Airport.
Released in the summer of 2014, the report was both a boost to arguments supporting the construction of a high-speed rail system for central Colorado, and a downer.
The boost came with the finding that such a system was technologically feasible. The downer was the estimated $11 to $32 billion construction price tag.
Now, an economic research and analysis group based in Littleton is taking a fresh look at the high-speed proposal, with an emphasis on the needed level of investment to get the project going.
The Development Research Partners study, results of which are expected to be released later this spring, is also placing a premium on public input, probing support for the construction of a high-speed transit system.
Continued talk regarding such a system is a reflection of ongoing driver frustration regarding traffic congestion on the busy I-70, which runs east to west through the state.
The proposed system to be studied by DRP would carry passengers and light freight between the Eagle County Regional Airport and the Denver International Airport.
The route would push through the corridor, as well as the larger Denver metro area.
Exactly what kind of technology would comprise the route remains to be determined, although several proposals have suggested the use of magnetic levitation vehicles carrying passengers from one place to another.
Such a system, according to the earlier CDOT study, could cut the current one-hour and 10-minute drive from Fort Collins to the Denver International Airport to less than 40 minutes.
Similarly, a drive from Colorado Springs to the DIA, which takes around an hour and a half, would be achieved in less than 60 minutes.
Given metro Denver’s recent double-digit population growth rate, the high-speed route, according to the CDOT study, could be expected to eventually provide transportation for up to 19 million passengers annually.
By Garry Boulard
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