An Insider’s Perspective – Outlook for Transportation in 2014

Co-sponsored by Move Colorado and the Ports-to-Plains Alliance, join us for a compelling webinar on Friday, March 7 from 10-11 a.m. MST with nationally recognized public policy expert Jack Schenendorf, as he shares insights on how policymakers in Washington D.C. are approaching transportation funding.

You will leave the webinar with:

  • An understanding of current transportation funding issues,
  • A broader understanding of how we arrived at this point,
  • A projection of how the federal government is likely to approach future transportation funding for states, and
  • A candid examination of options we have to address these issues for Colorado.

Perhaps most valuable of all, you will have fresh understanding of current transportation funding challenges in Colorado!

For more information, view our event news release. Space is limited, so register now!

Also, be sure to download the Transportation Funding Webinar Primer as event prep!

Click here to watch this important transportation funding debate that occurred on 9NEWS this past weekend. Amy Ford from CDOT and Danny Katz from CoPIRG discuss the US 36 Public-Private Partnership contract and how we can expect contracts such as these to become more and more prevalent in the years to come.

We were in the committee hearing today when CDOT and others testified about the proposed managed lanes concessionaire agreement with Plenary Roads Denver. CDOT’s presentation dispels many myths – download it here (PDF): FINALJoint Transp Committee US 36 Public Update – Feb 13 2014.

DENVER, CO – Move Colorado announced today that it endorses Aurora referendum 2B, which will provide $5.7 million a year for 21 transportation projects. The measure expands Aurora’s transportation options without raising taxes and will cost the average property owner less than a gallon of milk a month.

“Residents and policymakers throughout Colorado have taken leadership to fund projects that are critical to their neighborhoods and local economies,” said Jeffery Kullman, an Aurora resident and president of Move Colorado. “Referendum 2B is an example of that kind of leadership, and the projects it intends to fund will ensure Aurora has a bright future and a stronger economy.”

Move Colorado believes that the projects funded by referendum 2B will have a positive affect on Aurora and will complement other regional transportation projects. For example, the RTD board recently approved funding to complete the I-225 light rail project that will connect Aurora with Denver and help reduce congestion and alleviate projected population growth. A portion of the funding will be used to support the light rail project, which is expected to be complete by 2015.

“Eventually, we’ll need to address transportation at a statewide level but local communities depend on reliable transportation to support their economic, health and education systems,” said Kullman. “I’ll be voting ‘Yes’ on 2B, and I strongly encourage my neighbors to vote ‘Yes’ too.”

For more information contact Michael Price at (720) 515-7581 or mike@aguilarpr.com.

Last week, the bipartisan co-chairs of Building America’s Future called on the Commission on Presidential Debates to add infrastructure, including transportation, as a topic of the upcoming debates, starting with the Denver debate on October 3rd. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and former Pennsylvania Governor Edward Rendell signed a letter to the commission, which clearly connected infrastructure with the economy.

In the letter they wrote, “As our nation enters into the second decade of the 21st century, the state of our nation’s infrastructure continues to play a vital role in shaping our economy and our economic competitiveness with the rest of the world. Unfortunately, the federal government has not continued the level of investment necessary to maintain and modernize our infrastructure to meet the growing population and demands of our society. This failure also jeopardizes public safety and is having a deleterious effect on our environment and overall quality of life.”

The letter also cited some alarming facts about our aging infrastructure:

  • In 2011 the World Economic Forum ranked the overall quality of U.S. infrastructure at 24th – down from number five in 2002.
  • Congestion levels on our highways are costing us $101 billion in wasted time and fuel.

It’s encouraging the Governor John Hickenlooper is a member of BFA, where in Colorado, 52% of our roads are rated in poor condition with a staggering 33% of our highways are in such disrepair that they require major rehabilitation or complete reconstruction. In addition our roadways are becoming more congested as the population rises.  A 2011 traffic congestion study by Texas A&M Transportation Institute found that combined congestion on 1-25 southbound and northbound cost Coloradans $137,013,000 in wasted fuel and hours in traffic (Data Source: Powered by 2010 INRIX traffic data). With Colorado’s population expected to rise by more than 2 million people by 2035, this will only get worse without investment.

Move Colorado agrees that transportation must be at the center of the national discussion both as an individual topic and as a part of the debate on the economy. Transportation is not a partisan issue and it’s something that we should be able to agree on. Please share this message through your social media networks and call on the candidates and the commission to make transportation a key topic.

The following is a guest column by Raymond Swerdfeger on transportation in Colorado. Thank you to the Pueblo Chieftain for covering this important topic.

 

raymond-swerdfeger

Raymond Swerdfeger

Colorado is home to a complex network of roads, bridges, highways, tunnels and public transportation options that help us get to the places we love to go.

The transportation system we inherited from our grandparents has been so reliable that we’ve come to take it for granted. We’re now at a crossroads and are forced to face our shared responsibility to improve and maintain the system, which is aging and underfunded.

Colorado’s transportation system is the foundation of our economy and provides us with the freedom and mobility to travel anywhere in the state.

There are nearly 23,000 miles of highway, 3,450 bridges, 20 tunnels and 35 high-mountain passes that are open year-round.

We have buses and trains, tracks and stations. This entire infrastructure requires daily maintenance, which is expensive and the costs go up during the winter months when 5.7 million miles of highway are snowplowed and deiced.

Due to deteriorating revenues, 52 percent of our roads are now rated in poor condition and 33 percent of our highways require major rehabilitation or complete reconstruction. Public officials have done everything they can within the constraints of a state budget that has declined by 30 percent over the last five years.

The average Colorado driver is only spending $22.50 a month for federal and state gas taxes combined. Compare this to the average American worker who spends four times more for coffee every month (about $90) than we do for the freedom of driving anywhere in the state. We pay such low costs because the tax used to fund our transportation system was last increased in Colorado in 1991.

There is hope that informed citizens are recognizing this problem and the need to fully fund the system. Gov. John Hickenlooper recently wrapped up regional public policy meetings through the TBD Colorado project.

Citizens from across the state participating in the meetings talked about health care, education, the economy and transportation. After a close analysis of the state of transportation, over 80 percent of all TBD participants agreed that increasing tax revenue dedicated to our transportation system is needed.

While the show of support for increased funding levels at TBD is a great start, I’m writing to ask for your support as well. We inherited an amazing transportation system from our grandparents, but it’s our shared responsibility to improve and maintain it.

The future of our economy and our livelihoods depend on it. Please place transportation at the top of your priority list and urge your representatives to find realistic ways to invest more in the system.

Raymond Swerdfeger of Pueblo is a member of Move Colorado and president of the Colorado Contractors Association.

This message was shared by University of Colorado President Bruce Benson in an email newsletter on July 14, 2012.

A Message from the President

University of Colorado President Bruce Benson

CU President Bruce Benson

That’s why I have been – and will continue to be – active in efforts to improve transportation. – President Bruce Benson

Many old-timers still call U.S. 36 between Boulder and Denver the “Boulder Turnpike,” a holdover from the days when it cost a quarter to travel the road. It opened in 1952 after a collaboration between business interests and CU pushed for a direct route between the cities, and the toll ended in 1967, when the $6.3 million bond was retired. A similar collaborative effort among the university, businesses, cities and the state is in order to meet 21st century transportation needs.

Many alumni, me among them, who attended the Boulder campus still remark about the first time they crested the hill to see the view of the campus, Flatirons and Boulder Valley. Those traveling the road today are as likely to talk about traffic snarls as views.

Transportation is as vital now as a half century ago. As the university has grown and expanded to Denver, Colorado Springs and Aurora, and as the growth of Colorado’s Front Range continues unabated, an effective transportation network is crucial to the success of the state and the university.

That’s why I have been – and will continue to be – active in efforts to improve transportation. We received some good news recently when the Regional Transportation District Board of Directors heard a recommendation to complete the FasTracks light rail line along Interstate 225, which will pass through the CU Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora before joining the line to Denver International Airport. The proposal, which the board will vote on soon, would see the line completed by late 2015.

The campus is only about 1 square mile, but the density of people is staggering. When the former Fitzsimons Army Medical Garrison closed in 1994, about 3,500 people worked there. Today, an estimated 27,000 students, faculty, staff, patients and visitors are on campus each day. We expect that number to more than double in the coming decades, particularly with the 2015 completion of the Denver Veterans Administration Medical Center adjacent to campus. Building more parking garages won’t alleviate congestion. A multi-modal solution is imperative.

The same is true for U.S. 36, another key piece of the transportation puzzle for the Denver metro area. With the I-225 solution proceeding, we are turning our attention to this critical link. There are many moving parts involved in the intricate web of transportation solutions across the metro area in general and along U.S. 36 in particular, which include light rail, bus lanes and others. But our bottom line is we need to ensure effective transportation for students, faculty, staff, alumni and visitors.

We have placed great focus on fostering collaboration among faculty, students, staff and researchers across our campuses, with businesses and federal labs. While technology facilitates that collaboration, as often as not it involves face-to-face interaction. Accomplishing that requires effective transportation.

We will work with all interested parties – including cities, the state and federal government, transportation coalitions and intergovernmental agencies – to ensure that transportation needs are met. Now that light rail along I-225 and through the CU Anschutz Medical Campus has taken positive steps forward, we will focus on the northwest corridor.

Some six decades ago, CU stepped up to join business and government to build the Boulder Turnpike. We will do so again so that a half-century hence, our campuses will continue to be a major destination.

For feedback, contact officeofthepresident@cu.edu.

Sincerely,

Bruce Benson
President

Thank you to the Denver Post, Glenwood Springs Post-Independent, Colorado Springs Business Journal, and Greeley Tribune for sharing versions of this column with their readers.

Mickey Ferrell

Mickey Ferrell

Most people don’t equate transportation with a thriving economy, mobility and freedom of choice. The truth is that having a modern transportation system is essential to our way of life. Unfortunately, we’re taking for granted the roads and bridges we inherited from our grandparents. It’s time for us to get in the driver’s seat and build a system that’s sustainable for years to come.

I want to thank Governor John Hickenlooper for hosting critical public policy meetings through the TBD Colorado project. Citizens have gathered throughout the year to talk about health care, education and the economy. During the meetings, transportation was consistently identified as a serious concern. At the regional meetings in June, an overwhelming number (over 80%) of TBD participants from across the state agreed that increasing tax revenue dedicated to our transportation system is needed.

While transportation will likely remain a key issue moving forward, I believe that if we fully understood the impact that transportation has on issues like health care and education, it would become an even higher priority. We’re fortunate to have a dependable and safe transportation system, but we fail to realize what it takes to retain that sense of security. We have come to expect reliable transportation but we need to connect that with the investment it takes to maintain it.

In fact, it’s estimated that the average American worker spends four times more for coffee every month than we pay the state for the freedom of traveling anywhere in Colorado. Workers spend over $90 a month on daily cups of joe but here in Colorado it only costs the average driver $22.50 a month for federal and state gas taxes combined.

A major reason for this inequity is that the tax used to fund our transportation system was last increased in Colorado 1991. Consequently, in the last five years our state transportation budget has decreased by 30%. President Dwight Eisenhower created today’s highway system in 1956, which has been a boon to our economy, but it requires adequate funding to maintain it. Transportation officials have done an excellent job despite falling revenues. They deserve praise but they’re limited by the funding constraints.

Just take a look around your neighborhood. Statewide 52% of our roads are rated in poor condition with a staggering 33% of our highways are in such disrepair that they require major rehabilitation or complete reconstruction. Officials would like to address these challenges but their hands are tied. They need our support.

If we don’t adjust our funding system, we won’t be able to maintain the infrastructure needed for a 21st century economy. Jobs will be lost, businesses will locate to other states and our economy could further stagnate. That’s not a future I’m willing to accept for myself or for my family.

I’m not suggesting that you should give up your morning coffee but the next time you’re drinking a cup on the way to work, ask yourself this question, “Are the roads I drive on worth as much as this coffee?” Hopefully you’ll answer, “Yes” and support investing more in transportation.

Let’s elevate transportation to the top of our priority list. If you’re participating in a policy discussion in your neighborhood, voice your concern or simply urge your representatives to find realistic ways to invest more in transportation. The solutions are there but we have to be willing to think long-term and provide more resources. Let’s drive our own destiny and create a smart, mobile and sustainable transportation system.

Mickey Ferrell is the interim executive director of Move Colorado, an organization dedicated to building a smart, mobile and sustainable multi-modal transportation system in Colorado.

In a recent interview on Colorado Matters, Governor John Hickenlooper was asked what stood out at the TBD Colorado regional meetings, which he has been holding around the state this year.  The first policy topic he mentioned was transportation and he said Coloradans unanimously support creating an effective transportation system.

If fact, our research shows that more than 80% of TBD Colorado participants from across the state agreed that increasing tax revenue dedicated to our transportation system is needed.

Here’s an excerpt from the transcript (emphasis added):

RW: Your administration spent the spring convening big public meetings around the state, to hear from citizens what their big policy concerns are and what they want to see the state become in the future. And you call this effort, TBD, To Be Determined. You just wrapped up public hearing a few weeks ago. What stood out?

JH: I thought that this notion that you could go around and have thirty-eight or forty town hall meetings all over the state and ask people what were their priorities. I just, I like the image of that and I like the feel of it and I like, as we begin to pour over the data that came back, it is clear that there are certain places that we find consensus as a state.

RW: Like?

JH: Uh, people unanimously feel like they want to make sure we have a transportation system that is effective throughout the state.

RW: They feel that’s lacking now?

JH: Yeah. That there are portions of the state where they have not kept up with investment.

RW: Any examples?

JH: I can’t think of them off the top of my head. But we heard that from a desire of a better statewide system all over.

Click here to listen to the entire interview.

The board of directors of Move Colorado recently named Mickey Ferrell the organization’s interim executive director. Ferrell takes over for the previous executive director, Melanie Worley, who is leaving the position after becoming CEO of Developmental Pathways. Worley will continue her work with the organization as a member of the board.

“This is a great opportunity to share our vision for increasing mobility and choice in Colorado’s transportation system,” said Mr. Ferrell. “We’re going to work closely with residents and public officials to ensure all of our transportation options are reliable, safe and appropriately funded.”

“Mickey has a wealth of experience and is an expert in transportation issues. He understands what it takes to build and maintain a multi-modal transportation system,” said Jeff Kullman, president of Move Colorado.

Mr. Ferrell most recently served as the federal liaison for the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) where he helped formulate and recommend policy positions for the governor, executive director of CDOT, and the Colorado Transportation Commission. Mr. Ferrell was a key advisor to both internal and external stakeholders on numerous transportation projects representing billions of dollars in resources across Colorado.

Mr. Ferrell is a founding partner of Ferrell & Killin, LLC and has nearly 15 years of experience in government and transportation. Mr. Ferrell served as a senior advisor for three Members of Congress both in the United States Senate and the US House of Representatives with areas of responsibility in: Congressional Appropriations, the US Budget, Financial Services Industry, Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade, Government Reform, US Homeland Security, the Judicial Branch, US Tax Code, and US Transportation (Aviation, Surface – highway and transit, Rail, and Water).

For more information contact Michael Price at (720) 515-7581 or mike@aguilarpr.com.