New study shows economic impact of high-Speed transit in mountain Corridor

A new study by Development Research Partners, a Colorado economics research firm, found that a high-speed transit system  in the I-70 Mountain Corridor would generate $711.7 million in new economic activity and $45.8 million in new taxes, every year.

“High-speed transit is one of three components of the long-term plan for the  I-70 Mountain Corridor that was issued by the Federal Highways  Administration and the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT),” said  Margaret Bowes, Director of the I-70 Coalition, a non-profit organization representing 28 local governments and businesses along the I-70 mountain corridor that was one of the funders of the study. “While funding remains a challenge, this study provides valuable information for communities along the corridor and for CDOT and local transportation planners to take into account when considering the financial feasibility of a high-speed transit  system in the mountain corridor,” she added.

The Coalition was one of nine organizations who funded the study. Others included the City and County of Denver, the City of Idaho Springs, Clear Creek County, the Colorado Department of Transportation, Eagle County, the Metro Denver Economic Development Corporation, the Black Hawk Silver Dollar Metropolitan District, and Summit County.

“The bulk of the congestion on I-70 occurs in Clear Creek County,” said Clear Creek County Commissioner Randy Wheelock, “and it is imperative that we explore alternatives to moving people and goods through the corridor in a way that protects our community values and environment, while maintaining access to mountain destinations and their outstanding recreational opportunities. This study furthers our understanding of the economic potential of high-speed transit compared to a congested interstate. These positive results suggest that we update our knowledge of the latest transit technology, cost and other impacts to round out the big picture.” he added.

Specifically, the study found that high-speed transit would:

  • Generate 4.2 million new visitors to the corridor who would  produce $548.6 million in new spending and create 4,660 new jobs with wages  totaling $153.3 million;
  • Enhance business activity in the corridor which would generate  $131.6 million in new spending, 1,560 new jobs and $64.7 million in new wages;
  • Result in the addition of 3,350 new residents in the corridor who would generate $31.5 million in new spending and create 208 new jobs, producing $9.2 million in new wages; and
  • Generate $12.5 million in new property taxes, $31 million in new sales taxes, and $2.3 million in new lodging taxes.

In addition, high-speed transit would result in travel cost savings for commuters of $8.4 million, for new visitors of $3.3 million, and for residents of the corridor of $1 million. Further, the additional visitor and resident spending associated with a high-speed transit system will foster the development of 1,360 new residential units and 2 million square feet of commercial space with a combined value of nearly $1.2 billion.

“This corridor is vital to Colorado’s economy and to our ability to retain and create new jobs,” said J. J. Ament, CEO of the Metro Denver Economic Development Corporation. “Addressing congestion issues on this stretch of the interstate is important for our long-term economic viability and this study shows the economic contribution high-speed transit can provide as part of a comprehensive solution.”

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