Today, several leading experts in transportation testified before a joint hearing of the Colorado’s state Senate and House transportation committees. Representatives from Colorado Contractors Association (CCA), American Council of Engineering Companies of Colorado (ACEC), Colorado Asphalt Pavement Association (CAPA), and several others addressed transportation’s impact on Colorado’s economic development.
As a result of the recession and falling transportation revenues, construction unemployment is at 18%. Tony Milo, president of CCA, observed that, “While the rest of the country is in a recession, the construction industry is in a depression.” Milo emphasized that the work of the committee during this session will be critical to getting the construction industry back on track. According to the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC), 5.6 million workers were employed in construction in December of 2012. While this was an increase of 0.3% over December of 2011, it was still 28% lower than April of 2006. That’s 2.2 million less workers in the field helping to improve our country’s infrastructure. Colorado’s construction employment is recovering more quickly with a 6% gain year-over-year but it’s still 30% lower than it was in 2007. Approximately 119,500 construction jobs are in Colorado.
Construction workers, businesses and engineers are the backbone of our transportation system. They provide efficient solutions to complex transportation challenges such as congestion and safety. Investment in transportation has a direct impact on jobs. It’s estimated that for every $1 billion invested in transportation construction, 35,000 jobs are saved or created. For every nonresidential construction job that’s created, another job is induced as a result of construction families spending their extra incomes in their communities.
Transportation investments have an important impact on local economies because of nature of building transportation infrastructure. According to CAPA, one example is asphalt. Asphalt has to be made locally because it’s a perishable product and it can’t be shipped in from neighboring states. Therefore, with the asphalt industry operating at 70% below capacity, jobs have been lost and businesses have shut down. Nearly all asphalt pavements on state highways have been in place since the original construction. In the case of I-25 North of Pueblo, the asphalt dates back as far as 1962.
A coalition of concerned Coloradans participated in the hearing, encouraging the state to invest more in the future of transportation. It was a positive opportunity to revisit how important transportation is to economic development in Colorado.
Move Colorado will continue to help organize educational hearings at the Capitol in cooperation with state legislators, CDOT, and Colorado Contractors Association. Below are the details for upcoming hearings:
All hearings are at the Colorado State Capitol, Room HCR112 at 7:30am unless otherwise noted.
- Mar. 21st – Ports-to-Plains: Guest Presenters – Ports-to-Plains and Agricultural Community
- Mar. 28th – Transit/RTD: Guest Presenters – RTD and CASTA
- April 4th – Alternative funding including tolling, VMT, and P3’s: Guest Presenter – TBD