Yes on Proposition 110: It’s ‘go’ time for funding transportation projects in Colorado (letter)
October 9, 2018
Can a can be kicked so far down the road that you actually lose sight of it? This is a grave possibility for transportation funding in Colorado. However, voters can save the day by approving Proposition 110.
Proposition 110 will fund state and local transportation projects through a 0.62 sales tax (6 cents on $10), with an additional $6 billion for bonding. These dollars would cover a 20-year Colorado Department of Transportation project list and provide transportation funding to towns and counties for roads and bridges, bus systems, trails, sidewalks and other multi-modal projects.
The last time Colorado voters passed a transportation tax was 27 years ago, which raised the gas tax from 20 cents to 22 cents. With the onset of fuel-efficient vehicles, the buying power of the gas tax has been cut in half. Additionally, the federal gas tax has not been raised since 1993. Nationally, Colorado ranks 40th in transportation funding.
Proposition 110, also known as Let's Go Colorado, includes a list of specific projects statewide. These are derived from CDOT's long-range planning process, which involves counties, towns and transit authorities. Major Interstate 70 projects include safety improvements at Dowd Junction; additional lanes on the west side of Vail Pass to help keep it open; and a realignment of Floyd Hill to improve safety and congestion.
Forty percent of the revenue will go to counties and towns. As the density of workforce housing continues, we could add lanes and roundabouts on U.S. Highway 6. The county could finish the Eagle Valley Trail. We could transition to electric buses and add bus rapid transit that competes with the car.
Not passing this tax comes with a risk. First, CDOT has a $1 billion a year revenue shortfall, so local governments match state dollars at 30 percent to 40 percent in order to compete for projects. In the case of the 2019 improvements at Highway 6 and Edwards Spur Road (including a roundabout, pedestrian bridges and additional lanes), Eagle County and the Edwards Metro District are splitting a $7.8 million match to CDOT's $14 million contribution. This is not sustainable.
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Also, counties along the Front Range are tired of dealing with substandard roadways, so if Proposition 110 does not pass, they are preparing to band together and go after their own tax. This would effectively end the opportunity for statewide funding and leave CDOT and rural areas on their own. Toll roads are one likely result.
Proposition 109, or "Fix our Damn Roads," is also on the ballot. It is not a tax, but authorizes $3.5 billion in bonding, leaving CDOT and the legislature to determine how to pay for it. It's no way to finance a core service. The bonding projects, to be pulled from CDOT's $9 billion list, may not touch us regionally.
Proposition 110 ensures real funding for real solutions. It will enhance our economy and quality of life, promote road safety and reduce pollution. Vote yes on Proposition 110!
Kathy Chandler-Henry, Jeanne McQueeney and Jill Ryan
Eagle County commissioners
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