Colorado Pacific Railroad is offering Union Pacific $10 million for 170 miles of its Tennessee Pass Line, which runs from Parkdale to Dotsero.
Colorado Pacific attorney William Osborn said in a letter to Union Pacific that the goal of the deal is to have the ability to transport grain directly to the West Coast from eastern Colorado and western Kansas as opposed to taking a detour through the Texas Gulf Coast.
Kristen South, Union Pacific director of corporate communications, said in an email that Union Pacific is potentially interested in the offer.
“Union Pacific has received offers and are open to considering a deal that is mutually beneficial,” South said. “We believe there could be business opportunities for the Tennessee Pass in the future.”
Stefan Soloviev is the owner of Crossroads Agriculture and Colorado Pacific as well as one of the United States’ largest landowners. In 2018, he bought the 122-mile Towner Line from V&S Railroad after a lengthy legal battle reached the federal level, according to the Kiowa County Independent. The line connects Pueblo to the Kansas/Colorado border.
If he connected the Towner Line to the Tennessee Pass Line, Soloviev and other Midwest grain producers would have a more direct route to the West Coast and other potential export markets.
“Mr. Soloviev is taking this step because a substantial portion of the time, eastern Colorado and western Kansas grain producers will get better prices if they ship using the shortest railroad route to the West Coast, instead of the Texas Gulf Coast, for the export market,” Osborn said in the Kiowa County Independent.
“This is part of a continuing effort to open up eastern Colorado farm ground to West Coast and Pacific export markets for wheat and milo.”
Tennessee Pass Line began running in the 1880s but has been out of service since the 1990s, when Union Pacific took over the Rio Grande and Southern Pacific. The corporation had a route that followed a similar path in the region, so it decided to discontinue the line.
Proposals for public transportation by train have come up in the area for years. The latest example was in 2016 when Christof Stork of Golden pitched a 110-mile run between Eagle and Salida, with 18 stops in nine towns along the way.