us_287_co_05102The Colorado Freight Advisory Council (FAC), including representatives of shippers, carriers, warehousing, providers of freight or logistics support, freight-related associations, economic development organizations, academia, and other community groups with professional knowledge of freight as it relates to the economy and industry, freight modes, or commercial transportation, passed a resolution supporting solutions for statewide transportation funding at its regular meeting on April 28, 2016. The FAC focused, not on a specific source of funding, but upon the need all of Colorado encouraging policymakers and Colorado’s citizens to come together to address the ongoing, growing shortfall facing Colorado’s statewide transportation system.

The FAC recognized the growth taking place in Colorado. Colorado’s population has grown by more than 2 million people since 1991, the last time Colorado’s gas tax was increased and Colorado’s 5.4 million residents are now driving 50 billion miles per year in total on Colorado’s roads, bridges and highways.

The current funding sources are no longer able to maintain the statewide system much less address the transportation needs of a state growing in numbers and economically. Coloradans rely now on more fuel-efficient vehicles and use far less gasoline than in 1991, which is now severely crippling our state’s gas-tax based funding system. According to an Inside Energy analysis, after adjusting for inflation, Colorado’s highway department is taking in 30 percent less money from gas taxes now than it did in 2000.

Colorado’s growing economy has resulted in dozens of critical transportation projects waiting for funding along the Front Range, Eastern Plains, Western Slope and San Luis Valley. Colorado depends on a strong highway and transportation network to safely deliver goods to market and workers to their jobs and to attract economic investment. The FAC stated “a well-functioning, modern transportation network allows Colorado to maintain a regional, national and global competitive economic position.” Moreover, Colorado’s transportation network provides important economic and access benefits to individuals, small and large businesses, schools, emergency and safety providers, and tourists and travelers—while improved reliability, quality and access benefits every region across Colorado, including urban, suburban, rural and mountain communities. Infrastructure investment and construction jobs fuel our state’s economy. According to national economic studies, every $1 billion invested in nonresidential construction creates and sustains more than 28,000 jobs and another $1.1 billion in personal earnings.

“Colorado leaders should focus on investing in these critical infrastructure projects while the state’s economy is strong and revenue is available to make significant improvements and advancements in Colorado’s statewide transportation system,” said FAC Chair Jenyce Houg. “Our state needs a sustainable, long-term transportation-funding mechanism that allows Colorado to invest in its infrastructure, especially in strong economic times, without juggling competing political and policy mandates.

Policymakers at all levels should be discussing how to transition transportation funding from the current gas-tax based system, which will never provide adequate funding as fuel efficiency and the aging highway system clash, to other methods. The FAC urged these policy makers to support solutions which 1) Provides permanent, reliable, and robust transportation funding for use as determined by the Colorado Transportation Commission pursuant to its statewide transportation planning process, 2) establishes funding sufficient to seriously and aggressively address Colorado’s current and future transportation needs, 3) allows for both maintaining and expanding the existing system to meet the needs of a growing state, and 4) is protected from future legislative actions that re-direct the resources to other uses.

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The Colorado Freight Advisory Council serves as a forum for the private sector to advocate for commercial transportation needs, influence transportation policy, and collaborate with partners to develop a transportation system which supports the economic vitality of Colorado by providing for the safe, efficient, coordinated and reliable movement of freight. The Colorado Freight Advisory Committee includes representatives of shippers, carriers, warehousing, providers of freight or logistics support, freight-related associations, economic development organizations, academia, and other community groups with professional knowledge of freight as it relates to the economy and industry, freight modes, or commercial transportation. More information on the Colorado Freight Advisory Council can be found at https://www.codot.gov/programs/planning/planning-partners/fac.