The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) has issued two draft reports summarizing the feasibility of high-speed transit systems in both the Interstate 70 Mountain Corridor and I-25 Front Range Corridor.
The two feasibility studies were conduced by CDOT's Division of Transit and Rail (DTR) and a team of outside experts. The studies confirmed that high speed transit is technically feasible in both corridors, but not financially feasible in either corridor at this time.
The projects studied involve a statewide system with up to 340 miles of high speed transit between Fort Collins and Pueblo and between Denver International Airport (DIA) and Eagle County. The system, with travel speeds of 90 - 180 mph, is forecast to serve 18 to 19 million passengers a year in 2035, The prpject could save about one-fourth to two-thirds from the time it takes to drive the same trips in optimal travel conditions today.
Preliminary capital cost estimates range from US$75 million per mile on the Front Range to $105 million per mile in the Mountain Corridor, with an estimated U$30 billion price tag for the whole system.
Mark Imhoff, DTR Director, stated:
It is clear that we currently lack the financial capacity to build either of these projects. However, the studies show that a statewide system could provide many benefits to the businesses, individuals and tourists that depend on our interstates and provide a roadmap for capitalizing on improvements in the local, state and federal financial climates when they happen.
Dividing the system into smaller, less-expensive segments that could be implemented in phases also has significant financing challenges. Input from the financial community leads CDOT to believe that a maximum of $1 to $3 billion could be obtained in private financing, leaving a capital-cost gap of billions of dollars. New local, state and federal funds would be needed to cover this shortfall.