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May 16, 2024

SIGNED! Legislation Aimed at Establishing Passenger Rail for Colorado Becomes Law

SB24-184 creates dedicated funding to leverage historic federal investment from the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act for reliable, safe, and convenient transit and passenger rail for Colorado

DENVER, CO – Governor Jared Polis today signed into law legislation aimed at leveraging millions in federal infrastructure funding to bring passenger rail service to Colorado and expanding public transportation options across the state.

SB24-184, sponsored by Senate President Steve Fenberg, D-Boulder, and Senator Janice Marchman, D-Loveland, alongside House Speaker Julie McClusike, D-Dillon, and Representative Andrew Boesenecker, D-Fort Collins, implements a congestion impact fee that will offset climate impacts and mitigate the congestion caused by rental vehicles. Revenue generated from the fee will create a sustainable funding source to be used as a matching source for federal investment opportunities for statewide rail, as well as other forms of public transportation.

“For years Coloradans have been waiting for the promise of a fast, efficient passenger rail system that makes it easy, safe, and affordable to travel all across our great state,” Fenberg said. “Now, with the availability of critical federal funds through President Biden’s Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, we have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to deliver on that promise. I am excited to have championed this new law that will secure more efficient transit options while cutting emissions, reducing traffic, and connecting communities across Colorado.” 

“Once in a generation federal infrastructure funding is giving us the opportunity to build an expanded passenger rail system that will create the transportation options Coloradans have been asking for,” said McCluskie. “In addition to creating transit that reduces traffic and air pollution, passenger rail projects, including Mountain Rail, will create Colorado jobs and boost economies throughout the state. This law is a long time in the making, and I am excited to make significant progress towards passenger rail infrastructure.”

“Expanding our transit system and making it easier for folks in my district to travel across our great state is a key priority of mine at the Capitol,” said Marchman. “Expanding passenger rail service will connect communities like mine with the rest of the state and save people both time and money on their commutes, all while emitting less pollution and reducing traffic. I am incredibly excited about this opportunity to expand our transit options so that more Coloradans can get where they need to go safely and efficiently." 

“The Front Range Passenger Rail is a long time in the making, and this law will help us secure federal funding by creating a long-term funding mechanism to make expanded passenger rail a reality across Front Range communities,” said Boesenecker. “From Fort Collins and the Western Slope to Colorado Springs and Pueblo, Coloradans have been asking for more transit options. This law will build on existing transit systems and expand transit partnership opportunities to ensure we’re providing transportation services that work for the needs of our communities.”

The law encourages RTD, Front Range Passenger Rail, and the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) to coordinate efforts to secure the funding needed to establish passenger rail service from Denver to Fort Collins.

It also directs the Colorado Transportation Investment Office (CTIO) to use three studies in the near term to fund regionally important transit and rail projects originating from the Front Range Passenger Rail Service Development Plan, the Mountain Corridor Service Development Plan, and the Statewide Connectivity study that aims to build a more comprehensive statewide bus system, building on the successes of Bustang, Snowstang and Pegasus.

Finally, SB24-184 requires CTIO to create a new, multimodal strategic capital plan that aligns with CDOT’s ten-year plan, statewide transit plans, greenhouse gas pollution reduction goals, and other greenhouse gas reduction priorities and pollution reduction planning standards.

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