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Poll: Majority Of Coloradans Approve Tax Hike For Front Range Rail Service

DENVER (CBS4) - Many living along the Front Range in Colorado like the idea of a rail service connecting cities from Fort Collins to Pueblo to avoid Interstate 25 traffic, but how do people really feel about paying for it? That's one question a new poll tried to gauge.

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The poll was run by RBI Strategies and Magellan Strategies from Oct. 4 to Oct. 8. A total of 600 people were selected at random in cities across the Front Range. This poll followed a prior survey developed and run by the Colorado Department of Transportation from July through September. That survey asked commuters in general terms how they felt about a new train service. It showed that 95% of people who were asked about a rail service believed it could help address transportation needs along the Front Range.

The October poll featured similar questions, but it also asked if people would support a project that would have a regularly scheduled train service to major population centers from Fort Collins to Pueblo. Here, 81% indicated support, however, when people were asked if they would support a tax hike to potentially fund a rail service from Fort Collins to Pueblo estimated to cost $5 billion, the support dropped to 61%.

Randy Grauberger a project director for the Front Range Passenger Rail Commission, thought the two poll results show promising support for a rail service.

"We just think it puts this study that we're starting to kick off -- to do a feasibility study service that would look at number of trains per day, the actual alignments, station locations, cost of the service, operator of the service, speed of the service, station locations -- it looks like these survey results put us in a good position to kick off this study," Grauberger said.

Riders CBS4 talked with were concerned about the tax hike proposal yet agreed the service would be beneficial.

"As far as taxes go, taxpayers are going to be the one using it so we should be paying for it and I think it's a good investment. I really do," Steve Luciano, a light rail rider, said.

"I don't mind it," said Johanna Sanchez, another light rail rider. "People need it, and even if it's a long ways from here, I think everyone deserves to have it."

So far, the commission says how much a rate increase would be is something that would be decided in the distant future.

Stakeholder meetings are now being planned for November.

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