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Longmont city officials ask for area legislators to support passenger rail in Longmont

The passenger rail would connect from Fort Collins to Pueblo with stops in Longmont.
Stock photo by Wolfgang Rottmann on Unsplash

A trio of Boulder County-area legislators were asked by city officials Wednesday night to back a proposal for a 191-mile-long passenger rail system between Fort Collins and Pueblo that would serve Longmont residents.

The rail line would mimic the Northwest Rail line between Boulder and Longmont, long promised under the Regional Transportation District’s 2004 FasTracks plan. But cost overruns have pushed the completion of the Northwest Rail to 2050. 

The new CEO and general manager of RTD, Debra Johnson, recently drew fire from city officials, as well as from Gov. Jared Polis, for saying the Northwest Rail line may never be completed.

During a video meeting with state Sen. Sonya Jaquez-Lewis and state Reps. Tracey Bernett and Karen McCormick, city leaders asked the lawmakers to support an alignment proposed by the Front Range Passenger Rail Commission that would make stops in Longmont.

“I think this new alignment would provide the best chance to get passenger rail in Longmont,” said Phil Greenwald, Longmont’s transportation planning manager. 

Greenwald told the lawmakers Longmont taxpayers have paid $5 million a year for the FasTracks plan. “...We feel we want to get something out of that cost,” he said.

A letter asking for the legislators’ support was sent to them after Wednesday's session. The lawmakers accepted the letter without comment.

The letter, signed by Mayor Brian Bagley, states in part “Through the work of the (Front Range Passenger Rail) Commission to date, the Colorado Front Range communities are beginning to envision a future where commuter passenger rail can be a reality in the next 5 to 10 years, rather than 30-plus years.”

A draft report to the railroad commission states the first phase of the rail service could cost $1.5 billion to $2.5 billion. Officials say a key funding source could be Amtrak, the nationwide passenger rail service. The company is eyeing a national $25 billion modernization program to develop shorter passenger rail routes.