(Aug. 6) – A new law sponsored by Rep. Leroy Garcia (D-Pueblo) to preserve Amtrak’s Southwest Chief line, which runs through Southern Colorado, went into effect today.

Amtrak has threatened to reroute the Southwest Chief or suspend service on that line, running between Chicago and Los Angeles, unless Kansas, Colorado and New Mexico commit millions of dollars toward track upgrades.

The new law, sponsored by Rep. Garcia as HB14-1161, creates a commission to oversee efforts by state and local governments in Colorado, in cooperation with Kansas and New Mexico, Amtrak and the Burlington Northern & Santa Fe Railway, to ensure that the Southwest Chief continues to run through Colorado. The commission is also authorized to seek expansion of Southwest Chief service to include Pueblo in addition to its current stops in Lamar, La Junta and Trinidad, and to explore the merits of adding a stop in Walsenburg.

“We want to do what we can to keep the Southwest Chief running through Prowers, Otero and Las Animas counties, and I think it’d be great if we could add Pueblo and Huerfano counties to the list,” Rep. Garcia said. “I’m hoping we can find a way to make it feasible.”

HB14-1161 was one of more than 100 laws passed during the 2014 legislative session that went into effect today, the 90th day after the end of the session.

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