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Roberts’ bill boosting passenger rail, economic diversification moves forward

April 9, 2024, 7:07 pm

Colorado Senate Democrats on Tuesday issued the following press release on the Senate Finance Committee approving Sen. Dylan Roberts’ bill backing passenger rail and economic diversification in Northwest Colorado:

State Rep. Dylan Roberts, D-Eagle
Dylan Roberts

Senator Dylan Roberts’, D-Frisco, legislation to support both the realization of mountain passenger rail and economic diversification efforts in transitioning coal communities in Northwest Colorado passed the Senate Finance Committee today. 

SB24-190 would make the design and use of mountain passenger rail more sustainable by incentivizing the transportation of freight from companies that establish operations in coal transition communities along proposed rail lines, particularly in Craig and Hayden. The bill would allocate up to $10 million in incentives per year for Hayden and Craig, and Grand, Moffat, and Routt Counties to attract and retain large-scale businesses. 

“This bill is a transformative win-win for Northwest Colorado,” said Roberts. “As the region’s State Senator, prioritizing economic opportunity and resources for transitioning communities is a top priority. Further, representing all the communities that would be served by mountain passenger rail from Craig to Winter Park, I’m excited to do whatever I can to make that happen – and this bill does both. The financial incentives created by this bill could attract large employers to Craig, Hayden, and Grand County, create dozens, if not hundreds, of new jobs, give Northwest Colorado even more targeted economic support, and will be a crucial part in making passenger rail from Craig all the way to Denver a reality by the end of the decade.”

The bill would create an income tax credit through the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade (OEDIT) for businesses that choose to locate in a coal transition community and use rail to transport their freight. It would also make more of the region eligible for economic support from OEDIT, creating opportunities for economic diversification in the region and offering needed support for mountain rail development. Potential mountain rail would also facilitate increased tourism in the region, create additional economic growth, and allow locals to commute safely to and from Winter Park to Craig, with stops in between.

SB24-190 coincides with legislation advancing this year that would create dedicated funding to leverage historic federal investment from the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act for reliable, safe, and convenient transit and passenger rail for Colorado.

SB24-190 now moves to the Appropriations Committee for further consideration. Track the bill’s progress HERE.

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