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!
Denver South Economic Partnership is backing Let’s Go Colorado campaign. Below is their reasoning. See additional information to the right from both Let’s Go Colorado and Together We Go to better understand why you should get behind the campaign.
From Denver South Economic Partnership
With the election season well underway in Colorado it can be both confusing and overwhelming trying to keep up with every ballot initiative. We here at Denver South EDP, having done the research and listened to our communities, fully back Let’s Go, Colorado, a new funding source to fix our roads.
For decades, we have lacked the resources to maintain our roads, highways and local bus routes all across Colorado. We need a statewide solution that ensures local governments have the resources to meet demands, addresses high-priority projects on state highways, and promotes multimodal transportation options that reduce congestion.
The Let’s Go, Colorado proposal will increase the state’s sales tax an additional .62% on the dollar. This revenue will address longstanding problems with funding transportation projects in the state.
We sat down with our Managing Director, Lauren Masias, to dive deep into why this topic is so important for all Coloradoans.
The first thing I see is tax increase, why would anyone want to vote for that?
LM: A sales tax allows everyone who uses our road to chip in, including tourists. When looking at the actual numbers our proposal only increases the sales tax by .62%, a little more than half a cent on the dollar.
What will the money be used for?
LM: If approved by voters, this will generate in excess of $750 MLN/year and the ballot question specifies that 45% is to be used for statewide projects by CDOT, 40% is to be distributed to Local Governments and 15% is to be used to fund ‘multi-modal’ projects anywhere in Colorado.
In essence, the money will fund critical sate projects to increase safety, make it easier to get around, support multimodal transit and fund local street and highway projects as determined by their leadership.
That seems like a lot of money, do we really need that much, I thought the gas tax already paid for that?
LM: State Gasoline Taxes don’t cover anywhere near what the needs are and CDOT has a more than $9B backlog of projects with no funding.
Transportation and Infrastructure Committee
Our infrastructure is the backbone of our economy. In this video, Chairman Shuster welcomes luminaries from the past who were instrumental in championing infrastructure investment. Watch Adam Smith, President Lincoln, President Eisenhower and President Reagan explain in their own words why investments in infrastructure were just as important in their time, as they are today.
The $7.1 billion annual cost is broken down into $3.1 billion in congestion-related costs, $2.1 billion in costs related to crashes and other safety issues and $1.9 billion in vehicle-operating costs.
The average motorist will lose $2,306 per year to car repairs and to time lost in congestion.
Those same motorists will spend 52 hours per year stuck in traffic jams.
Denver Business Journal
Backers of a proposed sales-tax hike to fund transportation needs latched immediately onto the study from TRIP, a Washington D.C.-based transportation research organization that advocates for safety and increased efficiency. Mike Fitzgerald, president and CEO of the Denver South Economic Development Partnership, said after a news conference that the research clearly show that more work is needed than can be funded with the state’s existing resources.
Rocky Moretti, TRIP director of policy and research, said his organization, which is funded by a coalition of transportation advocates from across the country, said his organization decided to dig into Colorado’s roadway issues both because it is a growing state and because it’s a state that has grappled in recent years with how to pump more investment into its infrastructure. The Colorado Legislature this year allocated $645 million in new funding to roads and transit and approved asking voters in 2019 for permission to sell $2.3 billion worth of bonds for transportation — but only if neither of two initiatives from outside groups passes on this November’s statewide ballot.
Among the many numbers that TRIP compiled for the study, one that jumped out the most to Moretti was the fact that vehicle miles traveled in Colorado grew 11 percent between 2013 and 2016 — the sixth-greatest rate of growth in the country. That demonstrated both the state’s economic vitality that is attracting a growing population and the urgency that is needed to fix roads before their upkeep falls too far behind the needs of its citizenry.
“We clearly see there’s an ongoing need in Colorado that has yet to be addressed,” Moretti said. “So, we’re happy to educate residents about those challenges.”
Learn more: https://www.letsgocolorado.com/
“As they say, if this were easy… The reality is that we have ignored infrastructure for too long. For years, infrastructure advocates have been squeezed out of the budget in favor of other priorities. The issue has now become dire. Our lack of infrastructure is costing money, putting safety at risk, and will eventually stifle our economy.”
Think of Tony Milo as Colorado’s Lorax. Only, instead of speaking for the trees like the fabled Dr. Seuss character, Milo advocates relentlessly for the state’s infrastructure.
As executive director of the Colorado Contractors Association, he is the point man in the perennial push for more funding to highways, bridges and other wide-ranging public works. And almost since taking the helm at the association in 2005, Milo has been forewarning policy makers of the long-term consequences of letting backlogged upgrades to our transportation grid languish on the drawing board.
The transportation-funding compromise hammered out by lawmakers in the closing days of the 2018 legislature is a good start in chipping away at that backlog, Milo tells us in today’s Q&A. But it’s just that — a start — and he says much more far-reaching policy initiatives are needed to truly tackle transportation.
The House Small Business Committee held the hearing with lawmakers looking to address severe issues facing the national infrastructure system. The hearing explored the challenges that small businesses are facing as a result, and how they could be addressed, with a specific focus on surface transportation and access to broadband.
There has been a growing concern over the crumbling roadways, bridge collapses, and failing pipes in our national infrastructure system. The problem impacts both families and businesses across the country, but there is hope with lawmakers looking to address it.
“Our nation faces an infrastructure investment deficit of $2 trillion over the next 10 years,” Marsia Geldert-Murphey, the chief operating officer at W. James Taylor, Inc., said during the hearing. “The investment gap has led to deficient roads and bridges, water main breaks, inadequate ports and inland waterways, late flights, and so much more. Failing to close this infrastructure investment gap brings serious economic uncertainty for small businesses.”
Geldert-Murphey testified on behalf of the American Society of Civil Engineers. The hearing included speakers from several industry groups which represent small businesses in construction, engineering, and other sectors needed to improve infrastructure. Kevin Beyer spoke on behalf of The Rural Broadband Association.
“There appears to be a widespread consensus that broadband is essential infrastructure, and critical to life in modern American,” Beyer, who also works as the general manager for Farmers Mutual Telephone Company, said. “The public policy question that remains is how to best ensure that the service is available, affordable, sufficient, and sustainable in high-cost rural areas that don’t attract private investments on their own.”
General Fund revenue is experiencing additional expected growth compared to the December 2017 revenue forecast. General Fund revenue is forecast to increase 12.9 percent in FY 2017-18. General Fund revenue is projected to increase at a modest 3.2 percent in FY 2018-19 due to lower employment growth in a tight labor market and as income tax revenue grows more slowly.
“Today’s economic forecast is good news and gives us a chance to put additional dollars toward transportation and education,” said Governor John Hickenlooper. “Our proposal outlines a one-time $500 million allocation to the $9 billion transportation project list, $200 million to education and the remainder to address other pressing issues the legislature is considering.”
Along with the new revenue forecast, the OSPB delivered a letter to the Joint Budget Committee outlining Gov. Hickenlooper’s plan for allocating new revenue.
In FY 2018-19, the Governor’s plan calls for one-time infusions of $500 million to transportation and $200 million to K-12 education. Of the one-time money available, this leaves $96 million for other priorities under debate this legislative session.
In FY 2019-20, the Governor’s plan calls for allocations as follows:
“We’ve gained 800,000 people in the last decade and yet … we’re spending less now than we spent in 2007. If you have growth and a funding problem — you have trouble,” Hickenlooper said, adding that CDOT has $9 billion worth of needed projects, but doesn’t have the money to pay for them.
Hickenlooper spoke at the 2017 Colorado Transportation Matters Summit, organized by the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) and the Transit Alliance.
The summit, which drew 1,000 people from the state’s agencies and businesses that work on highways and transit networks, was held at the Hyatt Regency Denver at Colorado Convention Center.
Colorado has invested in the state’s infrastructure and education in the past, and seen it pay off in the form of a booming economy and low unemployment, Hickenlooper told the luncheon crowd.
But “transportation has been a prickly problem” for the state and one marked by a divide between urban and rural legislators, he said.
But the basic facts remain the same: Colorado’s roads and highways are aging and the state’s gasoline tax, 22 cents per gallon, hasn’t been raised since 1992.
January 9, 2017
When the Colorado Legislature convenes Wednesday, no priority is higher than transportation, leaders, lobbyists and motorists agree.
They also agree the state’s top priorities are widening Interstate 25 north of Monument to Castle Rock and north of Denver to Fort Collins, as well as the I-70 corridor from Denver to the high country.
That’s where the traffic jams, crash fatalities and circulatory system of trade and commerce coexist. And along those routes are where votes are decided.
Colorado has nearly $9 billion in road and bridge needs, but only a proposed $1.4 billion annual budget that is consumed almost entirely fixing exiting roads and bridges, plowing snow and preventing rockslides and avalanches.
A much-discussed and widely supported plan to borrow $3.5 billion for signature projects and priorities would need to go to the ballot next November, if it is paid back with a direct increase in taxes. The Legislature during the next four months could agree to refer a bond issue to the ballot.
Besides how the tab gets paid, they will have to agree on how the cash gets spread around and which projects get built first. Those debates are yet to come in the Capitol, before voters get a crack at it.
January 12, 2017
The Fix Colorado Roads coalition wasted no time following Gov. John Hickenlooper’s State of the State address to commend his call for actually fixing roads, including a nod of approval from Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers.
An email from group said mayors representing the congested north and south I-25 corridors commended the governor for addressing one of the state’s most vexing issues – fixing Colorado’s roads by finding reliable funding sources for transportation. “This is fundamental to accelerate critical transportation projects throughout the state, including the expansion of I-25,” the coalition said.
“The need for reliable transportation funding sources is supported by data. State demographers estimate that Colorado’s population will soar to 7.8 million by 2040, an increase of 2.3 million from 2015. This boom in population is outstripping the capacity of our existing roads and bridges, thus significantly increasing travel times while decreasing Coloradans’ quality of life,” the group’s email said.
The coalition’s email quoted Suthers as saying, “The free flow of commerce and alleviation of congestion between Denver and Colorado Springs on I-25 is essential to our citizen’s safety, quality of life and economic well-being. The time to act is now. Our challenge is shared by our friends in northern Colorado, along the I-70 Mountain corridor, and every part of our state. We stand with these leaders to find a statewide transportation funding and finance solution. I commend our policymakers and the governor, in working collaboratively to find a sustainable solution. They have my support.”