Southwest Chief Application Receives TIGER Grant

Sep 9, 2014

Credit Maggie Spencer / KRCC

Efforts to preserve Amtrak’s Southwest Chief long-distance passenger train service that runs through southern Colorado got a financial boost.  KRCC’s Andrea Chalfin reports on a grant from the federal Department of Transportation that will help fix some of the regional track that’s in most need of repair.

The $12.5 million grant will go toward repairing the worst of the worst in a section of track in Kansas and Colorado.  As part of the application, Amtrak said the company would continue serving that section for the next 20 years, effectively preserving stops in Lamar, La Junta, and Trinidad.

Pueblo County Commissioner Sal Pace chairs the state’s Southwest Chief Commission, which is tasked, in part, with looking at ways to preserve the long-distance passenger route. Pace calls this a game-changer.

"This does not get Colorado or southern Colorado off the hook for raising money because there’s still a lot more rail that needs to be done, but it does give us a huge sigh of relief."

Matching funds put up by the applicants, including eleven entities in Colorado, mean the grant totals nearly $22 million.  An Amtrak spokesman says conversations with Colorado and New Mexico will continue, but the company is optimistic.