The State of Colorado in the US has moved a step closer to bringing the major Front Range Passenger Rail project to life by taking advantage of federal funding with the passing of congestion fee legislation by a key committee. 

The latest version of the SB24-184 bill was passed by the state’s House Transportation, Housing & Local Government Committee in an 8-3 vote and would introduce a congestion impact fee on rental cars to fund the matched investment needed at a local level to access federal funds such as those funded by the bipartisan infrastructure law. 

Speaker Julie McCluskie, a Democrat supporter of the bill, described the legislation as “a long time in the making”, she said: “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.” 

Along with encouraging more sustainable travel, the bill is focussed on getting funding for the Front Range Passenger Rail project which was already included in the federal Corridor Identification and Development programme as a potential route for investment. 

The long gestating project would see the introduction of a North-South rail corridor along the Front Range mountain range in the centre of Colorado connecting Fort Collins to Trinidad via cities including Boulder, Denver, and Colorado Springs. 

If passed by the Colorado Government, SB24-184 would encourage public transit agency RTD, the Front Range Passenger Rail District, and the Colorado Department of Transportation to work together on securing the funding needed to establish the service as well as near-term projects for regional services along the route. 

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Additionally, the Colorado Transportation Investment Office would be directed to fund region transit and rail services proposed by the three studies, including the Mountain Corridor Service Development Plan. 

The funding measure included in SB21-184 includes a $3 per day fee on rental cars, or $2 per day for electric vehicles, and is estimated to generate $50m per year to put towards the 20% share of funding for projects required by federal programmes under the infrastructure law.