Repairs could derail summer travel
Post Independent Staff
The plan could cost Glenwood Springs hundreds of tourists who travel on what’s considered one of the most scenic passenger rail routes in the country. The city depends on tourists who take the train from Denver to visit the city and its hot springs, and the closure could come during the heart of the summer season.
The closure could also crimp plans to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the opening of Glenwood Springs’ train depot, which will be Wednesday, June 23.
Bromley said the track work will most likely be done during June so the railroad company can take advantage of the longest days of the year,
“It’s called a maintenance blitz,” Bromley said. “They’ll bring in an army of people to get it done as quickly as possible.”
Most of the work will be done along the Front Range between Denver and the Moffat Tunnel ” a passage that allows the train to take a shortcut under the Continental Divide.
“The work will take about a month and a half,” he said.
Bromley said the time line on the work hasn’t been determined for certain, but he guessed it would happen during the train depot’s centennial and Strawberry Days.
Amtrak spokesman Marc Migliari said the closure isn’t definite.
“I think it’s likely we’ll be closing,” he said.
The only other route between Denver and Salt Lake City detours north through Wyoming. The route skirts Cheyenne, passes through Rock Springs, rolls west to Ogden, then south into Salt Lake City. As the Denver-to-Grand Junction route loosely follows Interstate 70, the Wyoming route emulates Interstate 80.
Amtrak officials are considering how to fill the train’s transportation gap. The federal agency is considering running buses between Denver and Grand Junction.
“Certainly the scenic nature of the trip would be gone,” he said.
The California Zephyr stops in Glenwood Springs twice daily, once in each direction for five to seven minutes, long enough to load and unload luggage and passengers.
According to an Amtrak employee, a total of about 34,000 people either board or depart each year in Glenwood Springs, with many of them coming from Denver and the Front Range.
Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association tourism and marketing director Lori Hogan said the city will lose tourists if Glenwood Springs is bypassed. She guessed that upwards of 80 percent of Glenwood’s train tourists come during the summer months.
“Any time you disrupt service and transportation, you’re going to see a little fallout with the tourism,” she said. “But I think as far as Amtrak, we won’t see huge decreases in our accommodations tax.”
Chamber executive director Marianne Virgili said the proposed closure is especially ironic because the theme of the city’s Strawberry Days festival is “All Aboard for Strawberry Days.”
“Obviously trains are very important in Glenwood’s heritage,” she said.
Contact Greg Masse: 945-8515, ext. 511
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