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Colorado House passes transportation funding bill that enjoys local support

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June 2, 2021, 12:57 pm
I-70 traffic
Scenes like this are common on Colorado’s overburdened roads (I-70 Coalition photo).

The Colorado House of Representatives on Wednesday, by a vote of 41-24, passed SB21-260, known as the Sustainability Of The Transportation System bill.

The transportation funding bill, which originated in and already passed the Senate, had the support of Eagle County Commissioner Matt Scherr and Vail Valley Partnership President and CEO Chris Romer. Avon Democratic state Rep. Dylan Roberts, whose district includes Eagle and Routt counties, voted in favor of the bill on Wednesday.

“This legislation is an important step forward for our state and the largest investment in transportation in our state in decades,” Roberts told RealVail.com. “We all know that our roads need significant fixes and that we need to modernize our infrastructure for the future. SB260 was a carefully-crafted and long-negotiated bill that has received support from business groups (including the VVP), local governments, and legislators and voters in both parties. Improving our roads and investing in modern transportation infrastructure is good for our communities because it will make our roads safer, help our transition to greener transportation, and create good-paying jobs.”

The House made several amendents, so the bill now goes back to the Senate for either a motion to conference or a final vote, at which point it will head to Gov. Jared Polis for a signature. Polis supports the legislation.

Here’s a press release from the Colorado House Democrats:

The House today advanced historic legislation that will future-proof Colorado’s broken transportation funding system, improve air quality, create jobs and save Coloradans time and money spent on roads and vehicle repairs.

“This is the best chance Colorado has ever had to fix our transportation system and get people to work, kids to schools and goods to markets across the world,” said Speaker Alec Garnett, D-Denver. “Our aging transportation infrastructure is costing the average Colorado driver $732 a year on vehicle maintenance due to deteriorating road conditions and lost time stuck in traffic. Business leaders, conservatives, Democrats, transit advocates, rural county commissioners and urban mayors all across the state agree that the proposal we advanced today will modernize our transportation system, help Colorado compete with our neighboring states and grow our economy.”

“Today, we took a historic step forward to fix our broken transportation system, create new transit options, improve air quality, create jobs and save Coloradans time spent on damaged roads and money spent on vehicle repairs,” said Rep. Matt Gray, D-Broomfield. “In addition to fixing our roads, bridges, highways and tunnels, this bill will position Colorado to meet the market demand for more electric vehicles, reduce congestion and improve our air quality. Coloradans need us to fix our broken transportation system, and we are going to do it.”

SB21-260, sponsored by Speaker Alec Garnett and Representative Matt Gray, will save Coloradans money and time spent on roads by reducing congestion, creating new transportation options, and balancing the needs of every Colorado community. Colorado’s gas tax was created in 1991, and its value has significantly eroded since then, leaving Colorado roads and transportation system drastically underfunded. The bill will create a sustainable funding source for transportation infrastructure that will support a dynamic economy, improve air quality, create jobs, and ensure Colorado is positioned to compete with other states.

The bill provides $5.365 billion in transportation funding to fix roads and bridges, improve transit options, meet Colorado’s climate goals, help disproportionately impacted communities, and future-proof the state’s transportation system. The funding will come from a fair and responsible mix of state and federal funding, as well as fee revenue that reflects all the users and uses of our transportation system. For the first two years, the proposal reduces vehicle registration fees, saving drivers money in 2022 and 2023. New fees won’t begin until FY23 and will be nominal, phased and spread across all users of the system to bring down longer-term maintenance and repair costs while ensuring we are improving our infrastructure.

Overall, the bill promotes collaboration between the Department of Transportation (CDOT), Department of Public Health & Environment (CDPHE), and the Colorado Energy Office (CEO) to coordinate both regional and statewide efforts to develop a transportation system that supports a dynamic economy while mitigating climate impacts, saving Coloradans money and time spent on the roads, and making key investments in rural and disproportionately impacted communities.

To ensure transparency, performance and accountability measures will be required for every entity that receives funding through this bill, including the four new enterprises. The Colorado Energy Office and Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment will report on progress made toward the electric motor vehicle adoption goals in the “Colorado Electric Vehicle Plan 2020” and the transportation sector greenhouse gas pollution reduction goals in the “Colorado Greenhouse Gas Pollution Reduction Roadmap.” CDOT and every new enterprise will maintain public project management dashboards that will show key performance indicators for projects paid for by the funding in this bill.

Over the course of the eleven-year plan set forth in the bill, nearly $3.8 billion will be generated through new revenue, and the bill will leverage over $1.5 billion in state general fund revenue and stimulus dollars. This will provide long overdue funds after years of failed legislative attempts and ballot measures to support our statewide transportation system, as well as create good-paying jobs that will continue to exist for decades to come.

In addition to bipartisan legislative support, the proposal has garnered endorsements from local leaders and organizations across the state, including: Governor Polis, Mayor Hancock of Denver, Mayor Arnt of Fort Collins, Chair of the Metro Mayors Caucus Mayor Jackie Millet, Mayor Suthers of Colorado Springs, Mayor Weaver of Boulder, President and CEO of the Boulder Chamber John Tayer, A Way Forward chair and president and CEO of Colorado Concern Mike Kopp, Adams County Commissioner Eva Henry, SMART Union, Action 22, SWEEP, Lyft, Pipefitters Local 208, Colorado Competitive Council, Denver Hispanic Chamber of Commerce President Mike Ferrufino, Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce President Kelly Brough, Grand Junction Economic Partnership Executive Director Robin Brown, Rocky Mountain Mechanical Contractors Association Executive Vice President Dave Davia, Former Colorado Speaker of the House Dickey Lee Hullinghorst, Routt County Commissioner Beth Melton, Chaffee County Commissioner Keith Baker, Summit County Commissioner Tamara Pogue, Boulder County Commissioner Claire Levy, Grand County Commissioner Rich Cimino, La Plata County Commissioner Clyde Church, Eagle County Commissioner Matt Scherr, Larimer County Commissioner Kristin Stephens, Adams County Commissioner Emma Pinter, and Clear Creek County Commissioner Randall Wheelock.

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David O. Williams

Managing Editor at RealVail
David O. Williams is an award-winning freelance reporter based in the Vail Valley of Colorado, writing on health care, immigration, politics, the environment, energy, public lands, outdoor recreation and sports. His work has appeared in 5280 Magazine, American Way Magazine (American Airlines), the Anchorage Daily News (Alaska), Aspen Daily News, Aspen Journalism, the Aspen Times, Beaver Creek Magazine, the Chicago Tribune, the Colorado Independent (formerly Colorado Confidential), Colorado Politics (formerly the Colorado Statesman), Colorado Public News, the Colorado Springs Gazette, the Colorado Springs Independent, the Colorado Statesman (now Colorado Politics), the Colorado Times Recorder, the Daily Trail (Vail), the Denver Daily News, the Denver Gazette, the Denver Post, the Durango Herald, the Eagle Valley Enterprise, the Eastside Journal (Bellevue, Washington), ESPN.com, the Glenwood Springs Post-Independent, the Greeley Tribune, the Huffington Post, the King County Journal (Seattle, Washington), KUNC.org (northern Colorado), LA Weekly, the London Daily Mirror, the Montgomery Journal (Maryland), The New York Times, the Parent’s Handbook, Peaks Magazine (now Epic Life), People Magazine, Powder Magazine, the Pueblo Chieftain, PT Magazine, Rocky Mountain Golf Magazine, the Rocky Mountain News, Atlantic Media's RouteFifty.com (formerly Government Executive State and Local), SKI Magazine, Ski Area Management, SKIING Magazine, the Summit Daily News, United Hemispheres (United Airlines), Vail/Beaver Creek Magazine, Vail en Español, Vail Valley Magazine, the Vail Daily, the Vail Trail and Westword (Denver). Williams is also the founder, publisher and editor of RealVail.com and RockyMountainPost.com.

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