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.