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?