Several cities in western Colorado are teaming up to study the possibility of high-speed passenger rail service under the name the Rocky Mountain Rail Authority. Key cities participating include Steamboat Springs, Craig, and Hayden.

With rail lines along Interstates 70 and 25, the system could connect to similar networks already in the works in Utah and New Mexico, officials say. The I-70 line, which would link Colorado’s major ski resorts, could include a spur to Aspen and another to South Routt, Steamboat Springs, and Craig.

Routt County already has joined the authority.

A feasibility study of the potential system is to take no longer than 18 months, with the cost of the system the biggest question. A rough estimate puts the price tage at about $11.3 billion.

The Colorado Transportation Finance and Implementation Panel estimates that without a new source of funding, there will be a $51 billion shortage for the state’s existing transportation infrastructure by 2030. Rail transportation through the mountains in the heavily congested I-70 corridor has been a long-held dream for area cities and resorts.

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