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.

Read on...

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.

Read on…

Shaun Egan

“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.”

Greeley Tribune
January 19th

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.

Read on…

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. …

Complete News Release

 

CCA

“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.”

thinkstocktrafficfreewaycars-750xx2122-1194-0-111After 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

Contacts:
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.”

Ballot initiatives:

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.

  • Version 1 sets a base ballot initiative that only seeks the sales and use tax increase of 6.2 cents on $10 and directs that money to HUTF. This includes a 10 percent allocation to transit from the state’s portion of the funding.
  • Version 2 sets a base ballot initiative that only seeks the sales and use tax increase of 6.2 cents on $10 and directs that money to HUTF. It requires that during any three-year period the state must expend a portion of the revenues on one or more projects in each of the state’s transportation regions (statewide expenditures) and that the Department of Transportation produce an annual report on how the money was spent (accountability report). This includes a 10 percent allocation to transit from the state’s portion of the funding.
  • Version 3 uses the base ballot initiative and requires that during any three-year period the state must expend a portion of the revenues on one or more projects in each of the state’s transportation regions (statewide expenditures), that none of the funds can be used for toll roads (tolling prohibition), and that the Department of Transportation produce an annual report on how the money was spent (accountability report). This includes a 10 percent allocation to transit from the state’s portion of the funding.
  • Version 4 utilizes the base ballot initiative language, includes the three provisions of statewide expenditures, tolling prohibition and accountability report—and adds a 12-year sunset. This includes a 10 percent allocation to transit from the state’s portion of the funding.
  • Version 5 utilizes the base ballot initiative language, includes the three provisions of statewide expenditures, tolling prohibition and accountability report—and adds a limit of “not more than three percent of such revenues may be expended on administration or the hiring of additional departmental employees.” This includes a 10 percent allocation to transit from the state’s portion of the funding. This version includes a 10-year sunset.
  • Version 6 includes the above components of statewide expenditures, tolling prohibition, accountability report and 3 percent limit—and allows 20 percent of the state’s portion to be used for transit projects. This version includes a 10-year sunset.
  • Version 7 utilizes the base ballot initiative language but excludes transit projects as an allowable use of the state’s share of the new revenue.
  • Version 8 utilizes the base ballot initiative language—including components of statewide expenditures, tolling prohibition and accountability report—but excludes transit projects as an allowable use of the state’s share of the new revenue.
  • Version 9 utilizes the base ballot initiative language, includes the three provisions of statewide expenditures, tolling prohibition and accountability report—and adds a 12-year sunset. This version excludes transit projects as an allowable use of the state’s share of the new revenue.
  • Version 10 sets a state-only Transportation Safety Sales Tax at a rate of 3 cents on a $10 purchase subject to the state’s sales and use tax. This measure would raise more than $300 million in its first year. The money would be deposited into the Highway Users Trust Fund and would be constitutionally directed for the state to use for road, bridge, highway and transportation projects that address safety and congestion.

CO_Transportation_Ballot_Filings_03252016

The Hill
February 17, 2016

Getty Images

Getty Images

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…

The condition of the statewide highway system is deteriorating. This is not about “their roads” and “our roads”. It must be about expanding and maintaining the entire statewide system. Congestion and road condition issues are real in urban areas. Still the urban areas of the state must acknowledge that urban Colorado needs the statewide system to grow and prosper. Colorado roads serve all of Colorado and the nation.

coloradostatemap

It takes only a quick look at a state highway map to recognize that the miles between urban areas require a safe, efficient system of moving goods through rural areas. Movement of freight and people is about connections. Urban areas rely upon rural corridors to connect to markets and resources necessary to grow their economies. Not only do rural corridors make those connections to markets but they are also sources of the resources needed to drive those economies. The statewide transportation system provides the food, fuel and fiber needed in urban population areas.

This is not a question of fair share. There is not enough revenue to expand and maintain the statewide system or to address the urban transportation needs. CDOT and its Transportation Commission have had to make decisions that they do not want to make – decisions driven by its declining budget.

The Ports-to-Plains Alliance has published Maintaining and Expanding Colorado’s Statewide Transportation System: A Rural Perspective for the recent Voices of Rural Colorado event hosted by CLUB 20, Action 22 and Progressive 15. It provides a comprehensive look, from a rural perspective, at the statewide transportation system, funding, bonding, municipalities and counties, state policies and urban needs. The conclusions from the rural overview are below. Ports-to-Plains urges you to read the entire publication to better understand the value and issues facing the Colorado’s statewide transportation system. The entire publication (8 pages) is available free of charge at www.portstoplains.com/images/emma/transportation_and_rural_colorado_012116_complete.pdf

  • Rural Transportation Infrastructure is in trouble
  • The major users of the statewide system outside urban Colorado are not rural residents. They are the urban residents on their way to a vacation or to visit family, tourists visiting our beautiful state, and trucks moving goods and resources into, out of and within the state. Should all of Colorado support the cost of maintaining that infrastructure?
  • Every local, urban solution creates a block of voters unwilling to vote for statewide transportation funding.
  • Rural legislators must understand that failure to support new statewide revenues damages the rural infrastructure.
  • Rural Colorado does not have the population required to use current tools like P3s and RTAs to generate enough revenue to maintain the statewide system. Just looking at Interstate 70 and Interstate 76 in rural Colorado, where will the funding come from to maintain those interstates? A mile of interstate reconstruction costs more than the entire budgets of many rural communities.

Ports-to-Plains, a member of MoveColorado, is a grassroots alliance of over 275 communities and businesses, including alliance partners Heartland Expressway, Theodore Roosevelt Expressway and Eastern Alberta Trade Corridor Coalition, whose mission is to advocate for a robust international transportation infrastructure to promote economic security and prosperity throughout North America’s energy and agricultural heartland including Mexico to Canada. Additional information on the Ports-to-Plains Alliance is available at www.portstoplains.com/.

Denver Post
January 25, 2016

DENVER, CO - DECEMBER 14: Brake lights fill Interstate-25 as traffic passes after 6 p.m., near Alameda. Denver traffic along I-25 was photographed on Monday, December 14, 2015. (Photo by AAron Ontiveroz/The Denver Post)

DENVER, CO – DECEMBER 14: Brake lights fill Interstate-25 as traffic passes after 6 p.m., near Alameda. Denver traffic along I-25 was photographed on Monday, December 14, 2015. (Photo by AAron Ontiveroz/The Denver Post)

Traffic in Denver. Potholes in Colorado Springs. Unplowed roads on the Eastern Plains. Highway closures in the mountains. Gridlock on Interstate 25 north.

The state’s transportation problems all collide in one place: the Capitol. And the impact is pushing the perennial issue of state transportation funding to the top of the 2016 legislative to-do list.

Gov. John Hickenlooper and lawmakers are mostly united this session in a mission to find more money for road building and maintenance, but what is less universal is the solution.

Democrats and Republicans are moving in opposite directions and struggling to reach consensus on how to find more money — an impasse that is complicated by a state budget crunch.

Half of Colorado’s $1.28 billion transportation budget is spent on maintaining existing roads, according to state officials, which leaves little room for expansion projects demanded by a booming population. Colorado Department of Transportation officials estimate that revenues fall short of demand by about $1 billion a year. Read on…

Summit Daily News
December 28, 2015

The Colorado Department of Transportation opened the new I-70 Express Lane to tolling on Saturday, Dec. 19. Over the past two weekends, tolls have remained near the base rate, set at $3.

The Colorado Department of Transportation opened the new I-70 Express Lane to tolling on Saturday, Dec. 19. Over the past two weekends, tolls have remained near the base rate, set at $3.

Two weeks after its official opening, Colorado Department of Transportation officials see the Interstate 70 Express Lane as a success. The 13-mile toll lane, stretching eastbound between Empire and Idaho Springs, began collecting tolls the weekend of Dec. 19 and opened again Dec. 26 and 27.

“It went really, really well,” CDOT communications director Amy Ford said. “It kept traffic moving and sort of helped with the delay.”

While the toll range was set for $3 to $30, with prices increasing with traffic volume, she said the toll rested at about $3 through the weekend. Read on…