Southwest Chief, Front Range Passenger Rail Commission, and CDOT announce RFP to study Front Range Passenger Rail

May 28, 2019

DENVER—The Southwest Chief & Front Range Passenger Rail Commission (Passenger Rail Commission) and the Colorado Department of Transportation are requesting proposals to study the feasibility of a passenger rail system and other multimodal options linking Pueblo, Colorado Springs and Fort Collins to Denver. The RFP will study how a passenger rail system for this 173-mile corridor, which contains 85% of Colorado's population, could support the state's future growth and economy and benefit all Coloradans with sustainable, reliable travel choices.

"The Commission is excited to explore how passenger rail can bring sustainable and real congestion relief along our Front Range," said Southwest Chief & Front Range Passenger Rail Chair Jill Gaebler. "As our population grows, the I-25 corridor will continue to be a vital link to our economy, moving people and goods while improving connectivity and allowing Colorado to flourish."

Through this study, the Passenger Rail Commission and CDOT will identify different multimodal options to expand transportation options for the front range, as population along the corridor continues to grow. The options explored through the study will consider a range of technology alternatives for expanding transportation options along the Front Range, providing sustainable capacity for the system, and integrating multimodal options with work to modernize I-25.

In order to accelerate progress towards selection of an alternative, the study will streamline multiple required review processes, including the rail passenger service development plan document mandated by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), and environmental review required by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process.

"To meet the growing needs of our state, Colorado needs a robust, energy efficient, sustainable transportation system that incorporates different modes of travel and provides more choices for the movement of people and goods," said CDOT Executive Director Shoshana Lew. "The Passenger Rail Commission and CDOT look forward to expediting our review of options through a streamlined environmental review process that accelerates delivery of results that will improve safe and efficient travel up and down the Front Range, and keep people and our economy moving."

The Front Range region is forecasted to grow from 4.9 million people in 2020 to 6.6 million people in 2045, a 35% increase in total population. The North Front Range/Upper Front Range Region, Larimer and Weld Counties, together will grow 65% from 0.7 million to nearly 1.2 million. El Paso County (Colorado Springs) will grow 39% from 0.7 million to over 1 million, and the Metro-Denver will grow 27% from 3.3 million to 4.2 million. Pueblo County will grow 27% from  0.17 million to 0.22 million. 


CDOT has approximately 3,000 employees located throughout Colorado, and manages more than 23,000 lane miles of highway and 3,429 bridges. CDOT also manages grant partnerships with a range of other agencies, including metropolitan planning organizations, local governments, transit agencies, and airports. It also administers Bustang, the state-owned and operated interregional express service. Bustang ridership has grown more than 140% in 4 years of operation. Gov. Jared Polis has charged CDOT to further build on the state's intermodal mobility options.  

About the Southwest Chief and Front Range Passenger Rail Commission:

In 2017, the existing Colorado Southwest Chief Commission was legislatively repurposed to become the Southwest Chief & Front Range Passenger Rail Commission (Passenger Rail Commission). The Passenger Rail Commission was tasked with facilitating the implementation and operation of future passenger rail along the Front Range and Interstate 25.   

In 2018, a $2.5 million General Fund transfer was made by the Colorado General Assembly to fund the Passenger Rail Commission, including the development of a rail passenger service development plan  for the Front Range corridor. The state will soon be initiating a review of several alternatives, at varying price points, in the interest of advancing innovative yet practical pathways that will facilitate near-term project planning and coalition-building in pursuit of funding for the project. To learn more, visit the website.