Cripple Creek’s Pursuit of a Major Transit and Trolley Headquarters Moves Forward


Mega Street Paving Plans Mulled; Nuisance Crackdown Efforts Outlined

Rick Langenberg

It may just amount to a baby step for a transportation goliath of a project, but last week Cripple Creek leaders waved the go-ahead flag for grant efforts, aimed at securing half a million in funding for the design of a major transit bus and streetcar operations facility.

This represents a small portion of the total project cost, estimated previously at nearing the $50 million mark.

But from a grant standpoint, the town, in its pursuit a major transportation center, snagged a preliminary win. “We get a little bit more every year,” said Cripple Creek City Administrator Frank Salvato, in urging the council to proceed with the transit project.

The town was recently awarded $512,000 by the Colorado Department of Transportation, with a required match of a little more than $100,000. The city’s matching dollars will come from the 2024 and 2025 budgets.

The money would help fund design plans for the transit and transportation center.

At their Feb. 7 meeting, Salvato made it clear that the project has a long way to go before breaking ground. He described the effort as more of a 10-year plan.

About two years ago, the city unveiled fairly ambitious plans for a transit center, slated for construction near the Gold King Mountain Inn.  The project calls for a $46.2 million transit bus/streetcar operation center. This would provide parking for the town’s current fleet of bus vehicles and trolleys, and a support area for the streetcars and a commercial office area. It also would come equipped with a streetcar museum. Another aspect of the project focuses on a historic streetcar trolley system, with a cost estimated at about $30 million.

Altogether, the total transportation price tag was estimated at close to $75 million. The transit center portion would include a 134,000-square-foot, five-story facility. Based on preliminary plans, an additional component would include a new headquarters for the police department.

But Transportation Director Ted Sweitzer has cautioned city officials that the lion’s share of these dollars would come from the state and federal government, which could pay the bulk of the costs. He has stressed that currently there is a virtual jackpot of monies available for these types of alternative transit projects. And in many cases, Uncle Sam will even play a big role in paying for a good portion the operating expenses, according to the city’s transportation chief.

At last week’s meeting, the transit center was described as a “real asset to the community.”

The council gave the go-ahead, but didn’t ask too many detailed questions. With several new faces at the council table from the time when the original transit center plans were announced, the session served as more of a status report on the overall project.

The dream of revitalizing a historic trolley system has been on the tables for years.  A previous consultant study indicated that establishing a streetcar trolley network could work as part of an overall tourism plan.

Previous trolley plans, once seriously mulled by former Councilman Maurice Woods, never quite came to fruition. But many have rallied behind his overall trolley vision.

In other funding pursuits, the city last week heard about paving and improvement plans with a price tag of $28 million. Although this out of the realm of immediate funding objectives, city leaders want to take whatever steps it can to start the improvement process. “We need to stop the bleeding,” said Salvato. He noted that if certain street areas in town aren’t addressed, the price tag for improvements is going to increase, and the situation will get worse.

Public Works Director Steve DiCamillo was given his marching orders, consisting of getting bids for improving certain high priority areas in town.

The council also approved an ordinance okaying changes in its municipal code. Parts of this ordinance, though, raised some concerns from the council, especially in the areas of nuisances, untidy properties, inoperable vehicles and illegal campers.

Police Chief Bud Bright made it clear that the ordinance is aimed at getting people to comply with the new codes, and isn’t designed to make money from fines.