It’s back to the drawing board for fixing Colorado’s transportation woes after a funding plan died at the ballot box, legislators told a roomful of Metro North officials and business owners Jan. …
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It’s back to the drawing board for fixing Colorado’s transportation woes after a funding plan died at the ballot box, legislators told a roomful of Metro North officials and business owners Jan. 9.
“I don’t know what the answer is but I know we need to solve it,” KC Becker, Colorado’s Speaker of the House and a Boulder Democrat. “I know it takes a lot of learning room. We’re going to build on the lessons learned and hopefully continue to work with our coalitions and remember that if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.”
Becker was one of several speakers at the Community Solutions Legislative breakfast at the Lionsgate Event Center in Lafayette.
Commuting Solutions is a non-profit community group based in Louisville that focuses on transportation alternatives, like rail, bicycling and ride sharing. It’s made up of businesses and government officials from the northern Metro Denver area, especially those along the Interstate 36 corridor.
This was the tenth year the group has hosted the legislative breakfast, bringing legislators in to talk about their transportation priorities in the coming year.
The group was one of the big backers of Proposition 110, one of two transportation-related questions on November’s ballot. A second, Proposition 109, would have issued $3.5 billion in bonds that would be paid back from the state’s regular general fund budget to repair roads around Colorado. Proposition 110 would have created a 0.62 cent sales tax for 20 years, raising an estimated $18 billion over 20 years. That money would be divided up between state and local projects — including road repairs, rail, local projects and bicycle and pedestrian improvements.
Both failed at the polls.
Legislators did approve borrowing $1.5 billion for transportation projects last year and they will work on it this year. Westminster Democrat Sen. Faith Winter, chair of the State Senate’s Transportation and Energy committee, said everything has to be on the table for 2019.
“I don’t want our discussions this year on transportation to be centered around one side saying to we need to use general funds and the other saying that using general funds would hurt education,” Winter said. “I think there is a room in the middle there and we need to be forward thinking.”
It includes looking at different ways to fund transportation projects as well as different kinds of transportation methods.
“We need to be looking at revenue streams, we need to be looking at vehicle miles traveled, at public transit,” she said. “Maybe we’ll go to the ballot again and if we do, will it be bonding, or some other kind of revenue.”
She and Broomfield Democrat Matt Gray, the chair the State House Committee on Transportation and Local Government, are hosting a round-table discussion on transportation issues on at noon Jan. 23.
“Come bring us all your transportation ideas,” she said. “We want to hear everything. We want to hear all the solutions — small, big, crazy, something that will have an impact in ten years or something that will have an impact today. By taking all of our ideas and being creative, we will move forward and work on investing in the future of Colorado.”
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