Today, I joined Colorado Department of Transportation Executive Director Mike Lewis and other state and local officials in Denver for the groundbreaking of the I-70 reconstruction project or “Central 70,” as it’s referred to locally.
For anyone working, living in or visiting Denver, Central 70 is going to be a really, REALLY, big deal.
$1.2 billion big. That includes a $416 million loan from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act program, $114 million in Private Activity Bonds allocated by DOT, and $50 million in Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality funds from the Federal Highway Administration.
It’s the biggest project CDOT has ever undertaken.
And it’s being delivered using CDOT’s biggest public-private partnership (P3) to date.
If all goes according to plan, the P3 — Kiewit Meridiam Partners, CDOT’s High Performance Transportation Enterprise and the Colorado Bridge Enterprise – will bring several big benefits.
For starters, Colorado isn’t just rebuilding a section of I-70. It’s future-proofing road travel in Denver on the busiest route in the state, by adding intelligent transportation system infrastructure that will help accommodate autonomous vehicles in the years ahead.
The project will cut commute times for thousands of area drivers every day and add managed lanes in each direction along ten miles of I-70. That’ll bring a big sigh of relief for travelers anxious to get to Denver International Airport on time.
For 1,200 Rocky Mountain area businesses that ship freight into and out of Colorado by plane, train and truck, the Central 70 project is expected to be a big economic boost by easing bottlenecks, especially between I-25 and the area that’s home to the Western Stock Show.
CDOT also has big plans in the works to remove a 54-year-old viaduct, lower the highway along one section of the project and put a beautiful park over it.
Best of all, this will be a big state-of-the-art highway project built cost-effectively.
FHWA’s worked closely with CDOT for more than a decade to see this groundbreaking become a reality and we commend the state for using innovative project delivery as a way to invest in better transportation and a stronger economy.
For the Mile High City and the entire state, big things are about to happen on I-70. This P3 is looking down the road and seeing a brighter, safer future for Denver.
I can’t wait to come back to see the Central 70 in 2022 when it’s finished!
A bipartisan statewide coalition of business leaders, mayors and transportation advocates announced Friday it will gather signatures to place a 0.62 percent sales tax increase to invest in Colorado’s transportation system on the November ballot.
“This coalition has been working together for years to secure badly needed funding for transportation. And after another legislative session that failed to meaningfully address the issue, it has become clear that the citizens of Colorado have no choice now but to take this issue into our own hands,” said Mike Fitzgerald, president and CEO of the Denver South Economic Development Partnership. “As a business community we never want to see taxes increased unless it is absolutely necessary. We are now convinced that it is absolutely necessary.”
Coalition members highlight the decades-long revenue shortage for transportation combined with population growth as driving the need for new revenue.
“Maintenance and construction for our state highways are funded by a gas tax, which hasn’t been raised in over 25 years,” said Tony Milo with the Colorado Contractors Association. “When you combine that with population growth, we are spending less per driver on our highways today than we were in the 1990s.”
According to state budget documents, the Colorado Department of Transportation currently has a $9 billion backlog of projects across the state. In addition to funding for state highways, a key component of the coalition’s plan would provide funding for local projects across the state as chosen by local communities, including alternative means of transit.
“It’s about time we make a serious investment in our transportation infrastructure. Our roads are literally crumbling beneath our feet,” said Christian Reece, executive director of Club 20, an association of counties on the Western Slope. “This initiative is a responsible and modest approach to provide an immediate solution before our infrastructure goes from bad to worse.”
“Coalition members said they decided on sales tax to provide the new revenue, in part, because tourists, conventions and other visitors to the state will help pay a significant part of the tax. Every year 80 million people visit Colorado and use our roads; this approach will allow them to leave a little something behind to help us out,” said Kelly Brough, president and CEO of the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce.
Coalition members said they would begin circulating petitions immediately.
Quotes from key coalition partners from across the state follow:
Jackie Millet, Republican Mayor of Lone Tree:
“Our transportation crisis in Colorado extends from our state highways to local roads. This ballot initiative is a modest increase in the state sales tax, and it will do a lot to address the congestion caused by growth.”
Dan Gibbs, Democratic Summit County Commissioner:
“If we’re ever going to solve our transportation problems, we need to move away from the gas tax and make sure our communities have the resources they need to meet demand. This initiative will have a big impact on our mountain communities and rural Colorado by directing more resources where it really matters: improving our streets, highways and transit options so it’s easier and safer to get around.”
Cathy Shull, Executive Director of Pro 15:
“Our failing transportation infrastructure isn’t just a Denver problem, it’s a problem that affects every part of Colorado. This ballot initiative was developed by leaders from Fort Morgan to Grand Junction. This is a bipartisan solution that will repair and improve our infrastructure in a way that benefits every part of the state.”
Joe Kiely, Ports to Plains Alliance:
“Colorado’s economy directly depends on a reliable statewide transportation system. This ballot proposal addresses both local and regional problems across our state so that Colorado maintains its competitive edge.”
Cindy Dozier, Republican Hinsdale County Commissioners:
“Colorado has been underfunding transportation for decades because we’re using a funding source that just can’t keep up while the need continues to grow. Speaking as a rural county commissioner, I believe the only way we’ll be guaranteed that our local roads and highways will get the repairs they need is by going to the ballot and dedicating new revenue to this critical priority.”
Margaret Bowes, Executive Director of the I-70 Coalition:
“It is absolutely necessary we make a meaningful investment in our roads. Our failure to invest over the last 25 years is impacting our quality of life and costing us money in traffic congestion delays, traffic accidents and damage to vehicles, lost gas efficiencies and it’s only getting worse.”
Rachel Richards, Democratic Pitkin County Commissioner:
“We need a statewide transportation system that works for rural and urban Colorado. The state highways and local roads that connect our communities and support regional economies are in dire need of repair. This initiative goes a long way toward addressing those problems and provides the flexibility that local communities need to address their challenges
by Denver Post
“The only problem is the Colorado Department of Transportation doesn’t have the money to start construction.”
Westbound express toll lane also part of proposal
Colorado transportation officials on Tuesday released plans costing up to $550 million to improve the westbound Interstate 70 bottleneck at Floyd Hill by adding an additional lane and even building a tunnel to keep cars moving.
The only problem is the Colorado Department of Transportation doesn’t have the money to start construction.
The proposal, though, gives CDOT a jumping off point to address the growing congestion problems along the I-70 mountain corridor from Denver to ski country.
CDOT says it has been working with local elected officials and stakeholders to develop the concept unveiled this week, which they say would accommodate more westbound travelers.
State and federal highway officials have been working with a team of stakeholders, including representatives from Idaho Springs, Clear Creek County, Jefferson County, ski resorts and the general public, since signing a “2011 Record of Decision” about the I-70 mountain corridor and the Floyd Hill study area, said Stacia Sellers, CDOT communications manager.
The plan calls for I-70 to be reconfigured with simplified curves, bridges and walls to improve line of sight and driver safety. That would come in the form of a tunnel at the bottom of the interstate near Idaho Springs and a widening of the westbound lanes from two to three.
Republican State Senate President Kevin Grantham is a co-sponsor of the most significant transportation bill in Colorado for a number of years Senator Grantham gives a great overview of the bill as it enters the Colorado Senate for consideration after passing the Colorado House. Thank you to Senator Grantham and Senate Committee on Transportation Chair Randy Baumgartner for their leadership on this bill.
Here is the latest installment in the ongoing effort to keep you informed about critical issues here at Dome to Home. One of the most pressing issues is transportation funding as addressed in HB 17-1242. I wanted to give you the facts and rationale behind it and then you can decide for yourself whether you like this proposal or not.
As of right now the bill has passed the final vote in the House with bipartisan support and is on its way to the Senate Transportation committee. Several amendments were passed which goes to show that this bill is a work in progress and amendments mean opinions about solutions are being explored and accepted. I’m especially pleased with Representative Jon Becker’s amendment in Transportation committee to eliminate the FASTER vehicle registration late fees which is burdensome, especially to rural citizens. There was a lot of testimony on this bill and I’m very grateful for that and am looking forward to this discussion as the bill progresses.
About the bill itself, it is all about consent of the people, transparency, accountability, and deliberate, purposeful spending. This bill is not the end of the conversation but the beginning of a more difficult conversation with new ideas and many hard discussions. This bill is not perfect and has many things that both sides find disagreeable if not unacceptable. It is a work in progress and gives us a framework for discussion and the possibility of actually getting something through two diverse chambers, signed by the Governor, and approved ultimately by the voters of Colorado. We could have proposed a bill or series of bills that could swiftly pass the Senate and then promptly die in a House committee. That is easy. But if we actually want to see real change for your transportation needs, if we want to see something of substance done, then we have to do the difficult things, the tough things, to make a difference. That is why I have proposed this legislation which I believe is our best chance of success to solve the infrastructure and traffic issues seen and felt by each and every one of us.
So what is this bill? First and foremost this is a ballot question to be voted on by Coloradans. It’s important to me that the citizens of this state get a say not only on whether they will increase their taxes but also on where their money is being spent. It is important also that we remain constitutionally compliant in that we ask for your permission to do this. This proposal keeps faith with taxpayers by complying with both the letter and spirit of TABOR.
Following eight months of negotiations, Colorado legislative leaders on Wednesday introduced a 20-year transportation-funding bill that would ask voters to approve a sales tax hike to generate some $677 million per year for highway and transit projects — without making significant cuts to existing state revenues.
Observers, including Gov. John Hickenlooper, quickly referred to House Bill 1242 as a starting point, saying they expect details about everything from the size of the tax hike, to the allocation of new revenues, to be up for debate in the two months that the Legislature has left in its 2017 session.
But House Speaker Crisanta Duran, D-Denver, and Senate President Kevin Grantham, R-Cañon City, both expressed gratitude at finding a compromise they believe can muster support of their ideologically differing caucuses before they take their case to voters.
“We want to make sure that roads and bridges and transportation options across the state are adequately funded for generations to come,” Duran said in an interview with multiple news outlets shortly after introducing the bill just past 5 p.m.
She will co-sponsor HB 1242 in her chamber along with Rep. Diane Mitsch Bush, the Steamboat Springs Democrat who chairs the House Transportation and Energy Committee that will hear the proposal first.
“When we speak about our state’s transportation needs, policymakers usually mention the additional time and cost to travelers and business. While these statistics demonstrate a critical need for additional investment in our transportation infrastructure, they fail to capture the highest cost of our inaction, which is the loss of life or serious injuries to people on our highways. While being late for work or delayed while traveling to ski is annoying, they pale in comparison to a loved one not coming home.”
The high price of inaction on our infrastructure is 599. That is the number of people who died on Colorado’s roadways in 2016.
Highway fatalities and how they grew in number in the past year were part of a broad-based advertising campaign by the Colorado Department of Transportation to make the public aware of the human toll associated with highway accidents and the importance of safe driving practices.
While this campaign may have been effective in getting our attention, the number of fatalities and injuries on our highways unfortunately rose. In fact, highway fatalities in 2016 were at their highest level since 2005 and have risen by over 34 percent since 2011.
What is the cause of this increase? Many would point rightfully to distracted driving, driving under the influence, and speeding as leading causes of highway fatalities. In looking at those factors, many view the rise in highway fatalities as an enforcement issue. One other important consideration, though that rarely gets mentioned, is how our state’s lack of investment in our transportation system may be contributing to this increase.
Shaun Egan is the President and CEO of Iron Woman Construction, which is company that is involved in transporting construction materials and environmental consulting. Egan also serves as the vice chairman of the Colorado Motor Carriers Association, which represents over 600 companies involved in trucking in Colorado.
“While there have been a number of different efforts exploring how transportation funding in Colorado can be addressed, we all agree that our state faces critical transportation needs. The Chamber maintains its commitment to helping build a broad coalition in Colorado to develop solutions and ensure we can move people and goods efficiently and safely throughout our state,” said Kelly Brough, President and CEO of the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce.
“Through continued voter research, stakeholder engagement and statewide outreach, we plan to develop a measure for 2018 that best addresses the safety and congestion on our state’s road, highways and bridges, while also assisting Colorado’s diverse regions and local communities with their transportation needs,” Tony Milo, executive director of the Colorado Contractors Association concluded.
DENVER—The Colorado Contractors Association, Associated General Contractors of Colorado, Colorado Construction Industry Coalition and Move Colorado today announced they were withdrawing the 10 ballot proposals submitted in March for the 2016 election. The coalition will immediately begin focusing on developing a transportation-funding measure for the 2018 election.
“We have spent more than a year studying and talking to voters to assess their concerns about our state’s transportation system and willingness to invest in roads, bridges, highways and other transportation improvements,” said Tony Milo, executive director of the Colorado Contractors Association. “Over the past three months, we developed several ballot questions, and then worked diligently to assess the best timetable to present voters with a ballot question. Through this research, we learned that 2018 may be a much better time for this election.”
Key concerns, according to Milo, were voter confusion created by multiple issues being discussed for this year’s statewide ballot and the uncertain dynamics of the upcoming presidential election. …
“We certainly want to be sure that CDOT can cover that (remaining 100 million dollars in repayments). But 150 million out of the general fund is good,” said Tony Milo, executive director of the Colorado Contractors Association, which opposed the bill last year but is considering whether to support it this session. “I think this version is much improved from last year.”
After legislative leaders declared across party lines in January that increased road funding would be a top priority this year, it took until there were 10 days left in the 2016 session for a $3.5 billion funding plan to be reintroduced — and even then, it is getting mixed reviews at best.
Sen. Randy Baumgardner, R-Hot Sulphur Springs, introduced a measure late Monday that would ask voters sometime in the next three years to sell bonds to fund major highway projects, including expansion of the Interstate 25 and Interstate 70 corridors.
It came just three days after the House passed two bills to re-categorize the state’s hospital provider fee and ensure increased funding for roads for the next four years — though Baumgardner denied there was any deal in the works involving those bills, despite repeated suggestions from Gov. John Hickenlooper that the revenue created by the fee change could be used to pay off bonds. Read on…
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tony Milo / 303-921-4650
Bill Ray / 303-885-1881
DENVER—The Colorado Contractors Association, Associated General Contractors of Colorado, the Colorado Construction Industry Coalition and Move Colorado today announced that it has submitted 10 ballot initiatives seeking to address statewide transportation, mobility and safety funding, while ensuring accountability and transparency for taxpayers.
The different ballot initiatives, listed below and attached, were submitted to keep several options available while additional research and discussions are held in conjunction with the title board process during April. The coalition will ultimately pick one measure for signature collection and inclusion on the 2016 statewide ballot.
“We believe that 2016 will be the year of transportation on the ballot,” said Tony Milo, executive director of the Colorado Contractors Association. “Through extensive research, stakeholder engagement and statewide outreach, we have learned that Coloradans are concerned about the safety and congestion on our state’s road, highways and bridges—and that they want something done to address those concerns.”
All measures, except for Version 10, seek to raise about $640 million in the first full year through a Transportation Safety Sales Tax at the rate of 6.2 cents on a $10 purchase subject to the state’s sales and use tax. The money would be deposited into the Highway Users Trust Fund (HUTF) and would be constitutionally directed for state and local road, bridge and transportation projects that address safety and congestion. All measures include language to exempt the money from TABOR.
In all versions that include an HUTF distribution to counties and cities, each local agency is permitted under current state law to use the funds for roadway or transit projects.
February 17, 2016
Pothole damage costs U.S. drivers $3 billion per year, according to a new study from the AAA auto club.
AAA said most drivers in the nation experience damage from potholes three times per year, at an average cost of $300 per repair.
“In the last five years, 16 million drivers across the country have suffered pothole damage to their vehicles,” John Nielsen, AAA’s Managing Director of Automotive Engineering and Repair, said in a statement.
“The problems range from tire punctures and bent wheels, to more expensive suspension damage,” he continued.
AAA said the find comes as two-thirds of U.S. residents reported in a poll that was conducted by the organization that they are worried about potholes damaging their cars.
The group said fears about pothole damage were most prevalent among drivers who reported having an income of less than $75,000 per year. Read on…