There are three efforts underway to increase Colorado transportation funding in 2018. That’s good news! It means Colorado is getting serious about projects that can make our state healthier and improve living conditions for all Coloradans. But there’s more to the story, and it’s important to look deeper into where the funds allocated in each measure would go.

The three initiatives

Senate Bill 001

Senate Bill 001 was introduced at the beginning of the 2018 legislative session and seeks to increase Colorado transportation funding by taking $500 million from the General Fund and applying it to the State Highway Fund during the 2018-19 fiscal year “for the purpose of funding new highway construction projects.”

The bill acknowledges that “population growth has significantly increased traffic and congestion and will continue to do so in the future, causing longer travel times, increasing air pollution, decreasing Coloradans’ access to recreational opportunities, and accelerating the deterioration of Colorado’s transportation infrastructure,” but the proposed solution in the bill is to fund more highway projects and expansions, which will only exacerbate existing problems.

The bill lists several potential solutions, including narrowing lanes or shoulders on the existing roadway in order to increase the number of lanes available. Studies show that immediately after adding lanes to a highway there is a reduction in perceived traffic, but within a few years traffic congestion is just as bad as it was before the widening. That’s because adding more lanes to a highway doesn’t just create more space, it encourages more people to drive, which adds to the problems cited above.

Senate Bill 001 needs significant improvements, and a renewed focus on multimodal projects that get single-occupancy vehicles off the road, if it’s going to work for all Coloradans.

Read the latest text of the bill by clicking here.

House Bill 1340

House Bill 1340 includes similar funding for transportation projects around the state as SB 001 that would go toward Colorado transportation funding (HB 1340 includes $495 million, SB 001 includes $500 million).

A primary difference between the two bills lies in the allocation of funding.

While SB 001 would focus on highway projects, including expansions, HB 1340 allocates 35% of the funding to the Colorado Department of Transportation, 25% to counties around the state, 25% to local jurisdictions and 15% to multimodal projects (of which, 25%, or about $18.5 million, would be dedicated to pedestrian and active transportation projects.

The bill explicitly states that multimodal transportation projects provide tangible benefits to all Coloradans, and lists the following as examples of that:

  • making aging in place more feasible for seniors
  • providing flexible public transit services in rural areas
  • improving mobility for people with disabilities
  • providing safe routes to school for children

If HB 1340 passes both chambers of the Colorado legislature, it only goes into effect should SB 001 not similarly pass. Read the most recent bill text by clicking here.

Ballot Initiatives

In February, the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce filed four November ballot tax measures that would increase Colorado transportation funding and strengthen communities across the state. Forty percent of the revenue raised by the ballot measures’ increases would be reserved for cities and counties, and 15 percent would go directly toward biking, walking and transit. The Metro Chamber has since filed a fifth ballot tax measure with the same funding allocations.

The five ballot measures would raise the current state sales tax by a 0.35 cents, a half cent, 0.62 cents, or a full penny per dollar, with the fifth measure also raising the sales tax by a half cent while allocating $150 million of Colorado’s current tax revenue for transportation. 

The Metro Chamber is currently conducting polling on the five measures and, based on their findings, only one of the measures will end up on the ballot in November. Then it will be up to voters to decide whether or not to approve the increased funding.

You can read about each of the filed ballot measures by clicking the links below:

Colorado badly needs increased transportation funding, but that funding should go to more than just road maintenance and highway expansions. For any funding effort to make strides toward solving Colorado’s current transportation issues, significant dollars need to be dedicated to multimodal options that don’t require owning (or driving) a car.

We need a system that works for all people, and that means all modes of getting around, including bike lanes, sidewalks, transit, shuttles for people who are disabled or elderly and more.

Passionate about transportation funding
that works for all Coloradans?

When you get people out of single-occupancy vehicles, not only is there less traffic on the road, but our air quality and quality of life are drastically improved. Transportation contributes more to greenhouse gas emissions nationally than any other business sector. When you encourage single-occupancy vehicle usage by focusing on highway projects, that’s only exacerbated.

Studies also show that widening highways doesn’t reduce traffic congestion, but rather encourages people to drive more. Instead of focusing on highways alone, we need to focus on mobility. Providing different options for moving people is the best way to do that.

Further, adding transportation options improves public health in more ways than one. People who use public transit take 30 percent more steps per day than people who drive, and increasing the walkability and bike-ability of neighborhoods not only gets people exercising, but also boosts property values and increases revenues for local businesses.

When we create a transportation system that prioritizes and moves people, not just cars, we make our state better for everyone who lives here.

Bicycle Colorado

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