Colorado town backs plan to rebuild Pikes Peak Cog Railway

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Snow still covered Pikes Peak in this June 2015 view at the summit.
Brian Schmidt
MANITOU SPRINGS, Colo. – Colorado’s Pikes Peak Cog Railway is on track to reopen after the Manitou Springs City Council approved a pair of tax incentives this week to help the railroad’s owner rebuild the 127-year-old attraction. If everything goes according to plan, the Pikes Peak Cog Railway will reopen in 2020.

During a special city council meeting on June 12, the city council unanimously backed a plan to cap the the amount of excise tax the railroad pays to the city annually. The tax, which is applied to amusements and other entertainment services (such as Cog Railway tickets), could not exceed $500,000 for the first four years. After that, the tax could be increased by 1.5 percent every four years. The tax incentives would be in place for at least 50 years. The city also agreed to waive taxes on equipment and materials purchased for the railroad’s reconstruction.

The tax incentive agreement was unanimously approved last night and will be voted on a second time during the June 26 city council meeting.

Mayor Ken Jaray tells Trains News Wire that the city has been working with the Cog’s owner, the Broadmoor-Sea Island Co., for the last few months to find ways to reopen the railroad. Earlier this year, the company announced that the 8.9-mile rail line needed millions of dollars in upgrades in order to continue operating and that it would be shut down for at least three years, possibly even permanently.

City officials worried that the closure of the town’s biggest attraction would result in a huge economic hit to the community. About 300,000 people ride the Cog annually.

“The Cog Railway is an historic attraction that has been around for 127 years and it’s very important to this community,” Jaray says.

The owners have determined that it will cost anywhere from $80 million to $95 million to upgrade the track, facilities, and equipment.

Jaray says the city and the railroad are also planning on building a national museum dedicated to the Pikes Peak railroad and other cog and incline railways. Jaray says the centerpiece of that museum will be equipment and artifacts that the railroad has agreed to donate to the town. “We believe that we can build a world class museum,” Jaray says.

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

For more on the railroad, check out our Colorado Railroads special issue.

NEWSWIRETrains News Wire

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