Vote ‘yes’ on Proposition 110 to help us move forward with improving transportation (letter)
If you are registered to vote (and you should be!) you will receive your ballot in the mail shortly after Monday, Oct. 15. In addition to the opportunity to vote for many candidates, Eagle County voters will also have a chance to vote on many ballot initiatives. One of those is Proposition 110, Let’s Go Colorado.
We all know that Colorado’s transportation infrastructure — roads, highways and local bus routes — has been underfunded for decades. Twenty-five years ago, the state spent about $125 per driver each year on transportation infrastructure; today, it spends about $69 per driver. Potholes and rough roads are costing drivers an average of $468 each year in repairs. The failure to keep up with the infrastructure needed for our growing population results in safety issues. Congested roads cost Colorado drivers $3.1 billion each year in the form of lost time and wasted fuel.
This lack of funds doesn’t just impact the major metropolitan areas in Colorado; it impacts us locally, too. It means that when Eagle County needs an improvement in our transportation infrastructure, we have to put in about 30 percent to 40 percent of the cost of the project.
For example, the 2019 roundabout project at the Edwards Spur Road and U.S. Highway 6, which will improve mobility and safety, will cost Eagle County and the Edwards Metro District $3.9 million each, in order to draw down $14 million in CDOT funding. These are discretionary funds that could be used for affordable housing (a serious crisis here) or other needed services.
The Colorado Department of Transportation has more than $9 billion in projects but no money to fund them. It is time to take a comprehensive approach to address this issue.
Proposition 110 would enact a 0.62 sales tax, which is expected to raise about $20 billion, and would also allow the state to raise $6 billion through bonds. The revenues would be split among state highways, statewide transit initiatives, towns/cities and counties, which would get 40 percent of the amount raised. The funds that Eagle County would receive would be used as our local government determines and could include transit enhancements (making public transit more accessible and affordable) and improved roads, bridges and trails.
The competing Proposition, 109, has a snappy name: Fix Our Damn Roads. But it doesn’t do that. It allows the state to raise $3.5 billion in bonds, but the state legislature would have to figure out how to pay the money back with existing resources. Which gets back to the first problem: There are no existing resources. And it would include no funding for local projects.
We are so lucky to live in this wonderful state. But we need to recognize that there are some important things that need to be done to keep it wonderful. Probably the top three are improving our schools, protecting the environment and improving transportation. Vote “yes” on Proposition 110 to help us move forward on this third issue.