By Jimmy Orr, Cowboy State Daily
A proposal to provide Amtrak passenger rail service from Cheyenne through Denver and all the way to Pueblo has Cheyenne’s Chamber of Commerce CEO excited.
Dale Steenbergen on Friday told Cowboy State Daily that he’s “ecstatic” with the news Cheyenne was included in the Amtrak expansion proposal released with President Joe Biden’s $2.2 trillion infrastructure legislation.
The 15-year, $80 billion plan to repair, upgrade, and expand passenger rail service would mean Cheyenne would have passenger rail service for the first time in decades. That, Steenbergen said, would be great for Wyoming’s economy.
“It’s a great opportunity for Cheyenne and really good for business up and down the front range,” he said.
“For every dollar that a Wyomingite spends in northern Colorado, a Coloradoan spends $1.50 when they’re here in Wyoming,” he said. “That’s a trade we’ll make every day.”
Steenbergen said people in Wyoming mistakenly believe that Wyomingites just travel to Colorado for goods and services but forget about that consumers travel north to Wyoming as well.
“A lot of folks from the northern front range come to Cheyenne for a number of reasons,” he said. “They come up here to shop, they come up here for health care. There are between 4,000 and 5,000 people traveling between Cheyenne and Fort Collins and the Front Range every single day.”
Steenbergen said he and his colleagues from northern Colorado have been lobbying the Colorado Legislature for years to add new lanes to I-25 but even if lanes were added now, the expansion couldn’t keep up with the increased traffic.
“The area is growing faster than we could ever hope to fund roads,” he said.
Taking the train to Denver International Airport would be just one benefit from passenger rail service on the front range, he said.
“A lot of people in Cheyenne do business in Denver and the I-25 corridor is getting worse and worse,” Steenbergen said.
“I’m a firm believer in the success of regional economies but to be a successful regional economy, we have to have the infrastructure set-up so people can take advantage of that,” he said.
Steenbergen said he believes that improving and expanding infrastructure really isn’t a partisan issue.
What is partisan, he said, is how to fund it.
“No one argues against the need for infrastructure, we do argue, however, about how to pay for it,” he said.