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February 19, 2014

CDOT Finds Benefits and Financial Challenges to High Speed Transit

DENVER – The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) issued two draft reports today summarizing the feasibility of high-speed transit systems in both the Interstate 70 Mountain Corridor and I-25 Front Range Corridor.

Both studies – conducted by CDOT’s Division of Transit and Rail (DTR) and a team of outside experts – confirmed high speed transit is technically feasible in both corridors, but not financially feasible in either corridor at this time.

“It is clear that we currently lack the financial capacity to build either of these projects,” said DTR Director Mark Imhoff.  “However, the studies show that a statewide system could provide many benefits to the businesses, individuals and tourists that depend on our interstates and provide a roadmap for capitalizing on improvements in the local, state and federal financial climates when they happen.”

The studies envision a statewide system with up to 340 miles of high speed transit between Fort Collins and Pueblo and between Denver International Airport (DIA) and Eagle County (see attached graphic). With travel speeds of 90 to 180 mph, the system could save about one-fourth to two-thirds from the time it takes to drive the same trips in optimal travel conditions today. The system is forecast to serve 18 to 19 million passengers a year in 2035 (4 to 6 million in the I-70 Mountain Corridor; 12 to 14 million along the Front Range).

Significant travel time savings are also expected. For example, a trip from C-470/I-70 in Golden to Breckenridge would take just over a half hour and travel to Vail would take 50 minutes. Along the Front Range, traveling from Fort Collins to DIA would take less than 40 minutes, and Colorado Springs to DIA would take less than an hour.

However, the system is expensive. Preliminary capital cost estimates range from $75 million per mile on the Front Range to $105 million per mile in the Mountain Corridor, with an estimated $30 billion price tag for the whole system ($16.5 billion from DIA to Eagle; $13.6 billion from Fort Collins to Pueblo).

Dividing the system into smaller, less-expensive segments that could be implemented in phases also has significant financing challenges. Input from the financial community leads CDOT to believe that a maximum of $1 to $3 billion could be obtained in private financing, leaving a capital-cost gap of billions of dollars. New local, state and federal funds would be needed to cover this shortfall.

A Competitive Colorado
Population along the Front Range is anticipated to increase from four million today to six million by 2040.  During the same time period, population in the I-70 Mountain Corridor is expected to double to 400,000.

In many parts of the world, high speed transit offers a solution to congested highways and congested airports for countless travelers. Many U.S. regions also are upgrading existing commuter rail tracks to high-speed standards or building new high-speed transit systems.

CDOT will not make any commitments at this time, but will weigh the pros and cons with local, regional, and federal partners. The Draft Advanced Guideway System Feasibility Study for the I-70 Mountain Corridor is available at http://www.coloradodot.info/projects/AGSstudy. The Draft Interregional Connectivity Study for the I-25 Front Range corridor is available at http://www.coloradodot.info/projects/ICS.

 

April 24, 2013

Notification of Upcoming Request for Financial Information on the Colorado Advanced Guideway System

The Division of Transit and Rail of the Colorado Department of Transportation plans to issue on or about May 10, 2013 a Request for Financial Information (“RFFI”) to interested potential concessionaires or other possible financial providers. The purpose for the RFFI is to advance the feasibility assessment of financial options to develop an Advanced Guideway System (“AGS”) in the I-70 Mountain Corridor from the vicinity of C470/I-70 in Jefferson County to Eagle County Regional Airport. The RFFI will be posted on the project website at (http://www.coloradodot.info/projects/AGSstudy) and emailed to the mailing list developed last year. This is only a request for information and is not procurement for delivering the AGS. In no way does responding to the RFFI prequalify the respondent for a future project. Likewise, not responding does not disqualify a respondent from submitting on a future project  If interested parties wish to verify they are on the mailing list for this RFFI please contact Mike Riggs at [email protected] or 720.708.4176.

 

December 13, 2012

Technology Forum Showcases Potential I-70 High Speed Transit Solutions

GOLDEN, CO – As part of its Advanced Guideway System (AGS) Feasibility Study, the Colorado Department of Transportation’s (CDOT) Division of Transit and Rail (DTR) today held a Technology Forum to educate stakeholders about a range of potential high-speed transit options for improving traffic and mobility in the I-70 Mountain Corridor. The study is determining the feasibility of a high-speed transit system for the 120-mile segment from C-470 in Jefferson County to Eagle County Regional Airport.

“Anyone who lives in the corridor or has sat in their car for hours after a long day of skiing or hiking can tell you that traffic through the mountains is a huge problem,” said Mark Imhoff, CDOT DTR Director. “Today we got to take a close and exciting look at the many different kinds of transit technologies that could be a key part of solving that problem.”

The possibility of an AGS through Colorado’s mountains has brought significant national and international attention, expertise and technology to the state. Eighteen technology providers from around the world provided CDOT and the AGS Feasibility Study with reports detailing their system performance and operational characteristics in September. Eight of the eleven technology providers that met six preliminary criteria (travel time, grade, safety, weather/wind, light freight and ability to be operational by 2017) were on site at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds in Golden today to showcase their technologies.

“We’re looking at the full range of qualified technologies for the corridor,” said Imhoff. “They range from those capable of operating almost entirely in the I-70 right-of-way to those that would almost never be capable of operating in the highway right-of-way.”

Among the technologies exhibiting at the forum were magnetic levitation (MAGLEV) vehicle providers, providers of high-speed rail trains currently operating in Europe, personal rapid transit vehicle providers and developing technologies anticipated to be deployable in the near future.

CDOT is currently analyzing the information collected from technology providers to develop three groups of technology types to inform the feasibility analysis: those that can operate exclusively in the I-70 right-of-way, those that can’t ever operate in the I-70 right-of-way and those that could do both. A representative alignment will be developed for each of the three technology categories. This alignment and the performance characteristics of the technologies will be used to develop general cost assumptions for an AGS.

In early 2013, CDOT will seek private-sector help to develop potential funding strategies and assess the likelihood of raising the necessary capital for an AGS. A determination of feasibility is expected in
fall 2013.

About CDOT’s AGS Feasibility Study
The Colorado Department of Transportation’s Division of Transit and Rail is conducting the Advanced Guideway System (AGS) Feasibility Study to determine the feasibility of a high-speed transit system in Colorado’s I-70 Mountain Corridor. The $1.8 million study began in April 2012 and is expected to be completed in fall 2013. TYPSA|AZTEC and Jacobs Engineering are the lead consultants for the study that will evaluate technology, alignment and funding/financing options for a potential AGS in the 120-mile segment of corridor from C-470 in Jefferson County to Eagle County Regional Airport. This study is a critical next step identified in the Record of Decision for the I-70 Mountain Corridor Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement. If the study finds an AGS in the I-70 Mountain Corridor is feasible, a more detailed environmental study would select a specific technology and alignment for the system before CDOT could begin implementation.

 

November 27, 2012

High Speed Transit Technology Forum December 13, 2012 in Golden, CO.

The Technology Forum will provide stakeholders with an opportunity to learn more about a range of technologies that have qualified for CDOT’s AGS Feasibility Study. The study will determine the feasibility of a high-speed transit system for the 120-mile segment of the I-70 Mountain Corridor from C-470 in Jefferson County to Eagle County Regional Airport.

Technology providers from around the world elected to participate in the study by providing detailed performance and operational information. Participating technology providers that met six preliminary criteria (travel time, grade, safety, weather/wind, light freight and ability to be operational by 2017) have been invited to participate in the Technology Forum.

Thursday, December 13, 2012
10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Jefferson County Fairgrounds
Exhibit Hall 3
15200 West 6th Avenue Service Road (Off Indiana St., south of 6th Avenue)
Golden, CO 80401
Free parking is available on premises


November 16, 2012

CDOT Qualifies High-Speed Transit Technologies for Further Feasibility Analysis

CDOT’s Department of Transit and Rail (DTR) received 18 responses to the AGS Request for Statements of Technology Information that was issued on September 7, 2012. Technology providers were asked to submit information about the ability of their technology to meet key qualification criteria including travel time, grade, safety, weather/wind, light freight and technology readiness, among others.

In total, 11 of the 18 technologies included in the responses were found to be qualified for further feasibility review.

Qualified Technology Providers (alphabetical order):

  • American Maglev Technology
  • FlightRail
  • General Atomics
  • MagneMotion
  • MegaRail
  • Owen Transit Group
  • PPRTC
  • SkyTran
  • Swift Tram
  • Talgo
  • Transrapid

Qualified technology providers will be invited to exhibit and present their technologies at a Technology Forum on December 13 and 14. The primary purpose of the Technology Forum is to provide the AGS Feasibility Study Technical Committee and PLT members with a deeper and more comprehensive understanding of the full spectrum of qualified technologies to inform feasibility analysis.

CDOT will use the information collected from technology providers to develop groups of candidate technologies and corresponding alignment alternatives. Technologies not selected for use in the feasibility analysis are not precluded from being used in the ultimate implementation of the AGS. The goal of the current work effort is to establish if there is one or more feasible alternative to implement an AGS by the year 2025 as prescribed by the Tier 1 environmental analysis completed in June 2011.

 

September 19, 2012

CDOT Seeking Input from Private Technology Providers for I-70 Mountain Corridor High-Speed Transit

September 19, 2012 - Central Eastern Colorado/CDOT Region 1 - DENVER – As part of its Interstate 70 Mountain Corridor Advanced Guideway System (AGS) Feasibility Study, the Colorado Department of Transportation’s (CDOT’s) Division of Transit and Rail is issuing a Request for Statements of Technology Information. This is a key step in CDOT’s efforts to partner with the private sector to determine the role high-speed transit could play in solving the challenges of the I-70 mountain corridor.

Technology providers are requested to provide detailed performance, operational and cost information. Submittals then will be analyzed using criteria determined in collaboration with corridor stakeholders. Technologies not yet in revenue service also will be further analyzed to determine if they can be proven to successfully operate by 2017.

“By partnering with the private sector in this way, we will be able to consider the widest possible range of potential transit technologies for the I-70 Mountain Corridor,” said CDOT’s Division of Transit and Rail Director, Mark Imhoff.

Qualified technologies will be organized by performance capabilities into three alignment groups: capable of operating entirely in the I-70 right-of-way; those needing to operate entirely outside the I-70 right-of-way; and those requiring an alignment both in and out of the I-70 right-of-way. A representative alignment alternative for each group will be developed for feasibility analysis.

CDOT will follow this technology analysis with a similar financial analysis early next year. That effort will seek private-sector help to develop potential funding strategies and assess the likelihood of raising the necessary capital for an AGS. A determination of feasibility is expected in fall 2013.

Statements of Technology Information are due to CDOT by 4 p.m. on October 10, 2012. The request can be viewed at http://www.coloradodot.info/business/bidding/innovative-documents/AGS%20TRFI%20FINAL_90712.pdf/view.

 

August 15, 2012

As part of its I-70 Mountain Corridor Advanced Guideway System (AGS) Feasibility Study, the Colorado Department of Transportation’s (CDOT’s) Division of Transit and Rail (DTR) is preparing to seek detailed information from existing and emerging high-speed transit technology providers. The Technology Request for Information (RFI) is the first key step in collecting and analyzing specific information from the technology and financial industries that will be evaluated to determine the feasibility of a high-speed transit system for the 120-mile segment of the I-70 Mountain Corridor from C-470 in Jefferson County to Eagle County Regional Airport.

Informal industry outreach began in June and more than 150 industry representatives from around the globe have expressed interest in the project. CDOT expects to issue the Technology RFI in mid-September with responses due in mid-October. Responses to the Technology RFI will provide CDOT with detailed performance, operational and cost specifications.

The technologies will be assessed against the pre-defined performance and operational criteria. Qualified technology providers will also be invited to a Technology Forum this fall. The forum will give providers the opportunity to present their technologies to the project team, transportation commissioners, corridor stakeholders and interested public.

Based on the characteristics of the qualifying technologies, CDOT will develop a handful of general alignments to analyze system performance. CDOT is also forming a financial task force to simultaneously develop funding strategies and assess the likelihood of raising the necessary capital for the system in preparation for a Financial RFI that will be issued in early 2013. Financial feasibility is a key piece in determining the overall feasibility of an AGS along the I-70 Mountain Corridor and must be determined before any other steps can be taken towards implementation.

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