Amtrak’s Southwest Chief getting another boost from Pueblo County, other communities

The Southwest Chief rolls west toward Trinidad and the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Amtrak photo.

The U.S. Department of Transportation has announced a $225,000 grant to fund a feasibility study for extending Amtrak’s Southwest Chief route to Colorado Springs.

“I’m pleased that the Department of Transportation awarded this grant to study the feasibility of extending service, which has the potential to bolster transportation connectivity and support our communities,” said U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner.

The Southwest Chief, which runs between Chicago and Los Angeles, has three stops in Colorado: Lamar, Trinidad and La Junta. The Front Range Passenger Rail Commission and the Colorado Department of Transportation are seeking to analyze the possibility of a spur line from La Junta to Pueblo and Colorado Springs, allowing a section of the Southwest Chief to serve those communities.

The commission has identified separately routes for proposed commuter and high speed rail lines along the Front Range, envisioning a 173-mile corridor from Pueblo to Fort Collins.

“I am thankful for the partnership over the years between local, state and congressional leaders on preserving the Southwest Chief’s services, and I am committed to continuing to invest in our rural infrastructure,” said U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet.

The funding comes from the Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements Program, which funds rail safety projects and rural infrastructure upgrades. Approximately $63.8 million of the total $244.6 million available was set aside for rural projects.

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