MANITOU SPRINGS, Colo. - The Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado Springs, owner of the closed Pikes Peak Cog Railway, is considering a plan to reopen the popular train in two years, and the plan received initial approval from the Manitou Springs City Council Tuesday.
A week ago, during the groundbreaking ceremony for a new Summit House on Pikes Peak, Broadmoor President and CEO Jack Damioli said a decision on the railway's future was six to eight weeks away.
On Tuesday, Manitou Springs Mayor Ken Jaray apologized for not releasing the information sooner.
"We had some miscommunication about who was getting the information and who wasn't," he said. "But nothing has been decided yet."
KRDO NewsChannel 13 has learned that an informal community meeting on the subject was held Monday, attended by Jaray; Gary Pierson, the president and CEO of The Broadmoor's parent company, The Broadmoor Sea Island Company; and more than 60 people.
During Monday's meeting, Pierson said the cost of rebuilding and reopening the railway could be between $75 million and $95 million.
A special meeting of the Manitou Springs City Council was held at 6 p.m. Tuesday, during which the council considered the plan before voting to grant tentative approval.
Under the plan, The Broadmoor would pay for repairing the railway but would need two tax breaks from Manitou Springs: a waiver on an equipment use tax that could save up to $1 million and a tax incentive program that would limit The Broadmoor's annual payment.
Manitou Springs also would receive $1 million from The Broadmoor to balance an annual loss of $600,000 from decreased tax revenue because of the railway's closure.
Pierson said reopening the railway requires renovating, expanding or tearing down the train depot; demolishing and rebuilding the 9-mile track; and applying new material to make the track more level and stable.
Additionally, Pierson said, four of the eight train cars would be taken out of service and the remaining four would be renovated. Three new cars would be purchased.
The cars and steel rails for the track are available only in Switzerland, Pierson said.
The plan includes buying a new snowplow that would allow the railway to operate all year long.
Pierson also said the city and the railway will work together on changes to the depot, reducing traffic congestion and donating old railway equipment to a future city-owned railway museum in the Hiawatha Gardens building.
The council will take public comment and have a final vote in two weeks.
Pierson said he's trying to finalize construction bids and contracts, and hopes to have them ready before the council's next meeting.
He also said it will cost more to ride the 126-year-old train to and from the summit of Pikes Peak.
"We've kept (prices) artificially low for too long," Pierson said. "We should have raised them some time ago but we didn't make the investment necessary to justify that. So the short answer is yes, ticket prices will have to go up. It's not going to be onerous. It's one of the best values in Colorado entertainment dollars."
If the council had not granted preliminary approval and if repair costs had been higher, The Broadmoor wouldn't have tried to bring the train back, Pierson said.
Repairs could begin in August and finish in May 2020.