EVRAZ Rocky Mountain Steel gets big job

PUEBLO, Colo. -- On the verge of shutting down, the EVRAZ Rocky Mountain Steel Company says they've now got a job to supply 11,000 tons of steel to repair the Amtrak's Southwest Chief Rail Line.

Southwest Chief is a passenger line that runs from Chicago to Los Angeles, but the line is in rough condition.

Now a grant will help preserve it.

The Federal Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery, or TIGER grant, will pay for the project.

46.9 miles of the 158 miles of bolted rail are being replaced by EVRAZ steel. It's not only important in keeping this passenger rail system alive, but it's also bringing big bucks to the Pueblo community.

"This is actually a boost for EVRAZ when they've been laying a lot of people off in recent months," Pueblo County Commissioner Sal Pace said.

The grant, worth $12.5 million, plus an additional $9.3 million from the state, will help pay for the steel and more jobs.

"It's significant. Pueblo County, we put $100,000 toward the TIGER grant as a local match and our local economy will receive at least $8 million back," Pace said.

"It is so amazing to me that we are still continuing to pump millions of dollars back into our local economy from this great mill behind us and these great workers back here," Rep. Daneya Esgar said. "I am so proud of Pueblo, and I am so proud of how hard we're fighting to keep jobs here and to keep the steel mill going because we all know that is what built Pueblo and it will continue to build Pueblo."

11,000 tons of steel is a big job, but soon they could be producing even more.

The city is applying for another TIGER grant that they're hoping will bring a passenger line back to Pueblo.

"We're here for the long haul to make sure that the Southwest Chief continues to operate through Colorado," Ray Lang with Amtrak said. "I am hopeful with Sal that one day we will cut the ribbon at the beautiful station that you have in downtown Pueblo so that the Southwest Chief can once again serve this wonderful town."

Pace said if they do get the second TIGER grant and can bring back a passenger rail system, the next step will be building a line from Pueblo to Denver with a stop in Colorado Springs.

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