Wednesday, May 27, 2009

ColoRail Filing Suit To Halt Current Union Station Plan

The Colorado Rail Passenger Association, one of the pro-rail advocacy groups in Colorado, is filing a lawsuit aimed at stopping the current plans of the powers at work re-developing Denver Union Station. According to the ColoRail press release,
ColoRail finds the proposed plan short on transportation services that were committed to in the earlier planning processes and published documents. Specific concerns include the lack of expansion capacity for future transportation services, including planned passenger rail on the I-70 and Front Range corridors; insufficient passenger convenience and connectivity; and proposed project design features that are excessively costly to construct, will seriously disturb the neighborhood, and entail unnecessarily high operation and maintenance costs that have yet to be fully explained to the public.
ColoRail got its start 20 years ago when Denver Union Station was threatened with being demolished. The group's original name, Save Our Station, was changed when they accomplished their goal. Their mission has since expanded to advocate state-wide and inter-regional passenger rail service. It seems they're returning to their roots when they seek to preserve the vitality and centrality of Union Station from the greed of land developers who treat rail like an afterthought.

I know that RTD has a real penchant for underestimating demand. In 1995, I cruised the parking lot at I-25 and Broadway forever looking for a parking space, even after emergency arrangements for "unpaved parking" in adjacent lots had been made. They never expected that their baby light rail line would be so wildly popular and their future growth was stunted because of inadequate planning.

That same year of 1995, Denver International Airport opened, replacing the old Stapleton International Airport. It's triumph was that it would likely never run out of concourse space like Stapleton did, as Concourses A through C were straddled on a straight line, connected by a tram system (why not more efficient rail vehicles?) that could be extended as far as necessary to accomodate future concouses farther out. With the forward thinking the planners used, we will be able to accomodate future generations of aircraft beyond the A380.

I can't help recalling Stapleton and RTD's failure to plan as I look at the present plans which freeze off any similar expansion possibilities with two massive ice cubes of buildings. ColoRail is right to file this suit and should be supported. In 50 or 100 years, DIA will definitely be in use. We should be able to say the same about Denver Union Station, but we won't unless these plans are stopped in their tracks.

More about DUS and the future of rail in Colorado

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Denver HO Model Railroad Club Feature On Colorado Getaways

Since the 80s, KCNC Channel 4 in Denver has worked to boost Colorado tourism by producing features like Colorado Getaways. They recently profiled the Denver HO Model Railroad Club, the layout that's been in the basement of the Colorado Railroad Museum for over 40 years. Take a look at their video segment here. Want to visit the layout when it's open? Happen by the first Thursday evening of every month.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Greeley Museum Opens

The Greeley Freight Station Museum has finally opened! Read more here...

Colorado Midland Roundhouse Renovated For New Occupant

For over 50 years, Van Briggle Pottery had its home in the old Colorado Midland roundhouse located at US 24 and 21st Street in Old Colorado City in Colorado Springs. Now, Van Briggle has relocated to South Tejon and a new client is renting the space. Carmichael Training Systems, most famous for coaching seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong, has moved in after an extensive renovation. From the article in the Colorado Springs Gazette,
Griffis/Blessing spent $2.5 million renovating the 122-year-old building, which once housed the Colorado Midland Railroad's locomotives and is on the National Register of Historic Places. A few railroad artifacts, including rails and spikes, turned up during the renovation, while the building received a face-lift and massive new windows covering the arched entries where train engines once rolled
On a brief inspection, the roundhouse is still intact. You can still tell its original purpose, although the turntable pit location is masked by the parking lot. It's good to see the building retain its appearance and character while remaining useful and functional.

Some railfans may not recognize the Colorado Midland Railroad. Indeed, it was a major player in the Colorado railroad boom of the 1880s and the Midland Terminal, a remnant, survived until after World War II. A synopsis is available at Wikipedia and a "brief history" is at Richard Stamm's homepage.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Kyle Railroad Sold To Rail America

In 1984,14 counties from Colorado, Kansas, and southern Nebraska came together to form the Mid States Port Authority to take over the Kyle Railroad in Kansas and Colorado. The former Rock Island line from just northeast of Salina, Kansas to Limon, Colorado parallels I-70 (old US 40). It continues to serve 35 customers, include Scoular Grain, with a grain terminal in Salina, Kansas and Tamko Building products in Phillipsburg, Kansas. Now, Rail America, long a client of the Kyle, is buying it outright from the MSPA for $1. Read the full story...

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Statue of Palmer Used for Suicide Attempt

The statue of General William Jackson Palmer, founder of the Denver & Rio Grande railroads and of the city of Colorado Springs where the statue is displayed remains undamaged after a man drove into the base in a suicide attempt early Friday morning

Friday, May 15, 2009

Rio Grande Heritage Unit At First Light

Thanks to Kevin Morgan and his willingness to get up early on a Friday morning, we have some great shots of Rio Grande Heritage unit UP 1989 to go with our coffee. Thanks, Kevin!

Suicide By Train Leaves Path Of Destruction

It's been said that suicide is the ultimate act of selfishness. It's hard to disagree with that, especially when someone chooses to do something like this:
LOVELAND — Investigators say a woman struck and killed by a train committed suicide by lying down on the tracks.

The Larimer County Coroner’s office says 46-year-old Sherry Sowers of Loveland died from multiple blunt force injuries and that her death was a suicide. It happened Monday afternoon when she was hit by a BNSF Railway with two locomotives moving between 20 to 30 empty cars.

BNSF Railway spokesman Steve Forsberg says Sowers may have been lying on the tracks.
What happens to the crew of the train? They had no choice in being captive witnesses to her death. Their memory of her death will haunt them for the rest of their lives. Whatever the problems this woman faced, suicide by train was one of the worst solutions she could have picked. My prayers are with the crew and their families, as well as the family of Sherry Sowers.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Ride La Veta Pass For $18.78!

On June 22, 1878, the Rio Grande reached Alamosa in the San Luis Valley. The Rio Grande Scenic Railroad is drawing inspiration from the date.
Kicking off the 2009 season over Memorial Day Weekend, May 23 - 25, the train is offering a special daily ticket price that harkens back to 1878, the year the train’s route to La Veta, Colo. was first established. Throughout opening weekend, roundtrip tickets are just $18.78 per person. Passengers can board the train in either La Veta or Alamosa.
Please note, I checked with the office and this fare is for round-trip, not one-way. Interested? You can visit the Rio Grande Scenic Railroad web site and click the link at upper right to buy tickets or call 877-726-RAIL (877-726-7245).

Have a great time on the newest steam mileage and let them know you saw it on Colorado Railroads blog!