In one of the fastest-growing states in the country, Colorado lawmakers are contemplating a massive $5 billion package designed to address transportation infrastructure issues.
While the Colorado Department of Transportation has issued a project framework designed to address transportation issues up to the year 2030, a new business coalition is asking that some $250 million a year be additionally budgeted for infrastructure projects.
The group, called A Way Forward and made up of some 40 business groups, wants lawmakers to shift funding from other parts of the state’s annual budget as a first step in addressing a looming $9 billion backlog in the state.
In making its pitch, A Way Forward says that some 20% of Colorado’s highways and roads are currently classified as being in poor condition, with the infrastructure built to handle the driving needs of 3.5 million people, versus the nearly 6 million who now call the Centennial State home.
But previous attempts to raise taxes to pay for the state’s many transportation challenges have proven unpopular with voters. Twice in the last two years state residents defeated proposals calling for a sale tax increase to fund such projects.
One legislative proposal that would not require voter approval is calling for a gas fee which would be applied on a per gallon basis.
If ultimately approved by lawmakers, the Way Forward proposal would target funding to complete nearly 100 highway projects, along with another 45 multimodal projects.
While Colorado Governor Jared Polis has voiced support for the idea of finding new funding for transportation projects, he has so far not specifically endorsed the Way Forward’s $5 billion proposal.
According to the latest Census Bureau figures, Colorado has a 3.5% growth rate, making it the 8th fastest-growing state in the country.
By Garry Boulard
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