Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Why is CDOT studying high speed transportation?

CDOT is a multimodal organization, which means we need to explore several means of transportation. With significant increases of population and employment expected in the coming years, there will be significant strain on the current highway routes (primarily I-25 and I-70). To plan for the future, new high speed technologies are being considered as a potential solution. It is important to plan for the future now to ensure Colorado continues to grow, prosper, and create employment.

Is there a need for high speed rail on the Front Range?

Past studies have determined that sufficient ridership exists to advance the investigation into high speed rail both on the Front Range and generally in Colorado. Congestion on our roads and in our airports will only continue to increase, so CDOT is exploring a multimodal transportation system that seeks to deliver travelers in an efficient and safe manner to their destination (now and in the future) throughout the state. A more diversified transportation network (including rail) supports this goal.

What does the term ‘technologies’ mean in relation to high speed rail?

This study is examining multiple types of high speed technologies including (but not limited to) Acela high speed trains (currently used in US), Magnetic Levitation (Maglev) technology, and various types of high speed technologies currently used in Europe and Asia.  Technologies will vary based on potential alignments and whether existing tracks (railroad and/or RTD) are used. The use of existing rail tracks will limit the technologies that can be considered. The study will also look at the relationship between a system along the Front Range and a system along the I-70 Mountain Corridor and how they both would connect to RTD’s FasTracks system in the Denver metro area.

Is this an environmental study or Federal environmental impact statement (EIS)?

No, the ICS is not a federally sanctioned EIS or environmental study and actually is just one of several studies that must be completed prior to an EIS. The ICS will identify the feasible next steps for high speed rail on the Front Range by building off past studies. At some point in the future, before a project could be implemented, it will be required to go through the state and federal environmental process, which would require additional funding. Following the environmental processes, and contingent on the outcome of the results, the plan could go into a potential design phase, which would also require funding. This study is by no means ready for implementation for many years to come.

How does the ICS relate to high speed transit to the mountains along I-70?

The ICS is examining high speed rail options for the Front Range while a concurrent study (the Advanced Guideway System (AGS) feasibility study) is working on options for high speed transit from Jefferson County to Eagle County Regional Airport along I-70. The two studies are interconnected and the study teams are coordinating directly with each other. The analysis to determine the ridership for both the ICS and AGS studies is being completed jointly.

In this time of economic hardship, how would this system be paid for?

If the ICS recommends advancing high speed rail along the Front Range, financial analysis, cost estimates, and funding plan will be developed as a product of the study. One key need identified by the study is that any future high speed rail project must, "provide economic benefits sufficient to receive new funding." Therefore, the benefits of the system must be greater than the cost over the life of the high speed rail system. Simply put, even though we are completing the study as per our mission statement, we have no funding identified to move the project forward at this time.

How were initial alignments (routes) and station locations determined?

Initial routes and stations were determined based primarily on the research and analysis completed through past studies including the RMRA Study and the State Rail Plan. The options examined in these studies formed the long list of alignments for review by stakeholders. Based on public reaction and further analysis, additional alignment options will be considered and some options, like the Black Forest alignment, have already been eliminated. Actual station location options have yet to be refined. Stations will not be addressed until the team is able to further narrow the alignment options. At this point in the study, there is no preferred alignment option nor preferred station location options.

Will other alignments be considered by the study team?

Yes. The alignments under consideration were developed based on past study results. The alignments have been presented to stakeholders for their initial consideration. However, the team is open to considering other good ideas as the alignments are not final and there is no preferred alignment option. As new information and analysis is conducted, the team will refine the alignments to form the best option to maximize the benefits and minimize impacts.

Has CDOT identified a preferred alignment?

No, neither a preferred alignment nor a preferred technology has been identified by CDOT.

What are potential funding options for implementation of HSR?

A critical outcome of the ICS will be to identify funding options for segments of the system and for the entire system. There are a range of potential funding options that will be considered and funding will likely not come from a single source. Multiple options will be investigated including public‐private partnerships, federal funding sources, state support, federal credit enhancements, bonds, etc.

What is the timeline for potential implementation of HSR? What other steps are required?

Significant planning (including environmental impact analysis) and engineering must precede implementation of any infrastructure project this large. Any future high speed technology implementation would happen in phases, and would require stakeholder support as well as funding, none of which has been identified at this time. Even if the study determines that high speed rail is feasible, implementation is many years into the future, and CDOT is merely trying to plan ahead for a variety of transportation options in the state.

Why is CDOT looking at HSR along the Front Range when FREX (Front Range Express) was eliminated?

A common misunderstanding is that FREX ended due to low ridership, which is incorrect. FREX ridership and cost recovery was very strong, but even with its success, budget constraints faced by the funding agencies were simply too great and can no longer support the FREX service. Analysis of future conditions suggests that there will be a greater need for travel along the Front Range and for significant infrastructure projects.

Will there be other opportunities to provide input?

Yes. There will be two more series of public open houses as part of this study. They are anticipated to occur in winter 2012/2013 and spring/summer 2013. At the meetings, the most current information will be presented and similar to the first series of public open houses, there will be opportunities for stakeholders to provide their feedback to the study team.