Pikes Peak cog's owner asks for tax breaks for rebuild

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Snow still covered Pikes Peak in this June 2015 view at the summit.
Brian Schmidt
MANITOU SPRINGS, Colo. — The owner of Colorado’s Pikes Peak Cog Railway says the iconic tourist attraction could reopen as early as 2020 if the company can strike a deal with the local community on a pair of tax breaks to help reduce rebuilding costs.

Earlier this year, the Pikes Peak Cog Railway’s owner, the Broadmoor-Sea Island Co., announced that the 8.9-mile rail line needed millions in upgrades in order to continue operating and that it would be shut down for at least three years, possibly even permanently.

Since then, the owners have determined that it will cost anywhere from $80 million to $95 million to upgrade the track, facilities, and equipment. Company officials say they will move forward if granted tax incentives from Manitou Springs, a resort community just outside of Colorado Springs and home base for the railroad. Part of the agreement calls for the city to cap the amount of taxes the railroad will pay at $500,000 annually for the first four years. After that the cap would be increased by 1.5 percent every four years for 50 years. The city would also agree to waive taxes on equipment and materials purchased for the railroad’s reconstruction.

The tax incentive agreement will be discussed Tuesday night at a city council meeting in Manitou Springs.

City officials have worried about how a permanent shutdown of the railroad would impact the community that has come to rely heavily on the cog as both an attraction and contributor to the municipal coffers. About 300,000 people ride the Cog annually.

Gary Pierson, CEO of the Broadmoor-Sea Island Co., has told city officials that the tax incentives are critical to the rebuilding efforts. If the city and the railroad cannot come to an agreement, the future of the railroad may once again be in doubt, a fact that is plainly outlined in the proposal: “If the Cog does not reopen, it would likely have a profound impact on the city’s finances and the local economy.”

The Pikes Peak opened as the Manitou & Pikes Peak Railroad in 1891 and is the highest rail line in North America.

NEWSWIRETrains News Wire

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