July 10 2009, 9:59 AM
Yesterday Governor Bill Ritter said Colorado will join New Mexico and Texas in a plan that will create a high-speed rail line alongside I-25 between Denver and El Paso, Texas, linking the region's major cities. It would be a coup, especially since Colorado was ignored when the Obama administration issued a preliminary list of 10 national rail corridors that will be built with $13 billion in federal money, writes the Denver Business Journal. "This designation would connect our communities, increase economic opportunities, create jobs, and lead Colorado's transportation infrastructure forward," Ritter said. Congress has authorized up to 11 rail corridors, but the region must undertake a significant amount of work first, including a $5 million feasibility study--a move also backed by New Mexico and Texas governors Bill Richardson and Rick Perry. Critics of high-speed rail, including the conservative Independence Institute, call the idea a bad deal for taxpayers. A recent report by the organization says rail lines would fail to "relieve congestion, save energy, or reduce greenhouse gases," and would cost every Colorado resident $9,000 (via the Denver Daily News). Meanwhile, The Associated Press reports that officials in Wyoming are looking to connect rail lines that would run north from Denver to Cheyenne.