Colorado High-Speed Rail

Tuesday of this week, the Colorado Springs Business Journal reported on the feasibility study for high-speed rail in Colorado (http://csbj.com/2010/03/30/best-route-for-high-speed-rail-bypass-downtown-springs/).  A portion of the article was positive in that high-speed rail was found to be feasible between Pueblo and Fort Collins.  Locally, however the news was very troubling.  Apparently it was found to be more feasible to route the rail on the east side of Colorado Springs along Powers Boulevard (which I consider to be “the next Academy Boulevard” or “Academy of Broken Dreams” according to the Gazette).  Some logic goes into connecting the Colorado Spring Airport, BUT, in order to make high-speed rail successful, shouldn’t ridership play into the equation more heavily?  Historically, rail stops were always located in the Central Business Districts of cities, i.e. downtown.  This made the most sense, for one thing this is where everyone historically lived before the automobile made sprawl convenient.  Another important reason that still holds true, is this is where business is to take place.  By locating the rail on the eastern fringe of Colorado Springs, it is making rail convenient for the already auto-dependent.  This is backwards thinking and yes it would continue our ever-lasting infatuation with the automobile and shift the center of our City further east.

In my opinion, we should have commuter rail running along the existing rail corridors (which by the way go by the CBD’s of the Front Range Cities) with primary stops in Denver at Union Station, Castle Rock’s downtown, Monument’s downtown, a northern Colorado Springs stop (Woodmen and I-25), Downtown Colorado Springs’ downtown station, downtown Fountain and downtown Pueblo.  In Colorado Springs, we would have a streetcar system connecting UCCS to the South side of downtown (at Nevada and Southgate), with express buses (limited stops) between the commuter rail station and Fort Carson to the south and the airport to the east, with another potential streetcar spur along Colorado into Manitou Springs.  How is this not the logical solution?

One explanation I have heard is that the existing rail lines need to be utilized by freight trains.  Okay, that makes some sense, but wait wasn’t it found to be shorter distances and less vehicular/train conflicts (therefore less pollution) to route the freight lines east of the metropolitan areas through Limon?  Maybe this is not the case anymore because we need to get the coal and other goods from freight trains into our cities and power plants?  Okay, so let’s take some of the right-of-way space we currently have reserved for widening our interstate and add another rail line.  With APPROPRIATELY placed commuter rail, there will be less dependence on the automobile, thereby less need to widen our freeways.  I love this quote because there is so much truth to it.

Adding lanes to solve traffic congestion is like loosening your belt to solve obesity.” – Glen Hemistra

When are we going to understand this, probably when we get wiser with our land use and planning “solutions”.  That can not come apparently until total and complete failure occurs in our downtowns.  Detroit should be rebounding any minute now, right?

Please feel free to comment and if anyone has insight on this matter or can point me in the direction of the actual study, I would be much appreciated!  All that I know, the same mentality has stripped high-speed rail from downtown Denver as well?  Does it bypass downtown Denver to get rail to DIA, or does it do both?

Advertisements

4 Comments

  1. The feasibility study ignored one entire class of HSR … they looked at the DoT’s 110mph “Emerging HSR”, and then two different speed classes in “Express HSR”, and ignored 125mph “Regional HSR” entirely.

    But the 125mph Regional HSR seems likely to be the most effective way to provide new high frequency passenger service on new tracks in existing freight rail corridors. So, yes, the way the study was put together does seem to be tilted against using the freight rail corridors.

    In Europe, even for the main Express HSR corridors, they bring the trains off the 220mph corridors into express rail corridors to bring them into the center of the major cities.

    It seems that TEMS has done Emerging HSR studies before, and Express HSR studies before, but no Regional HSR studies before, so it might have been more new work for them to include Regional HSR in their study. This might be something to push back against when the Rocky Mountain Rail Authority considers their findings.

  2. Two years later and High Speed Monorail from E470 and I-70 to Eagle is moving along. Also CDOT has plans (hardcopy) to run HSM (HSR) from Casper to Albuquerque (I-25). RMRA recommended the Interstate corridors. Existing rail ROW’s have too many low speed curves and besides the RR’s don’t like to share. The other routes (Greenfield) are too far out of the way. i.e. the Monument station is 12 miles east of Monument. Or they run through the middle of existing communities See: http://hsr.blackforest-co.com for a current list of links.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s