The Future of Transportation Funding in the Northwest Region

Congested Roads

The conversation surrounding sustainable transportation funding has transcended beyond the walls of the Capitol. In the last days of the 2017 legislative session, the General Assembly passed Senate Bill 17-267 (SB17-267), commonly known as the Hospital Provider Fee bill. On May 30, Governor Hickenlooper signed SB17-267 into law.

Senate Bill 17-267 is a sweeping measure that focuses on three aspects of state government: health care, taxes, and transportation. SB 17-267 authorizes the execution of lease agreements on state facilities beginning in the fall of 2018-2019. Currently, it is anticipated that SB17-267 will generate about $1.8 billion for transportation funding. The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) will allocate these funds to projects across the state that are on the Tier One project list, with ten percent dedicated for transit projects. While many projects are being considered, Commuting Solutions does not anticipate that this funding will meet the needs of the northwest metro region today nor is it a reliable funding source for the future.

As stated by Tony Milo, executive director of Colorado Contractors Association “SB17-267 is a great down payment on a bigger problem.” Currently, sustainable transportation advocates are working together to ensure that a policy put in front of voters makes sense for the state of Colorado and addresses our multimodal transportation needs. While residents in the northwest metro region most likely will not see a ballot measure this November, there is a possibility for an initiated measure to be on the 2018 ballot.

Commuting Solutions would like to thank our legislators who tirelessly advocated for sustainable transportation funding for our region. Moving forward, we will be working closely with public and private sector stakeholders to continue to create solutions that increase commuter options and connectivity in the northwest metro region.

Commuting Solutions Inspires Positive Commuter Behavior Change

When the largest construction project in Colorado commenced, Commuting Solutions, a local nonprofit and Transportation Management Organization (TMO) for the US 36 corridor, implemented a program that would ease commuter frustration along US 36 during and after the US 36 Express Lanes construction project by reducing solo driving along the US 36 corridor. In Sept. 2012, the US 36 Congestion Mitigation program kicked off with the goal of increasing multimodal transportation usage through providing education, resources, and incentives for workers in the US 36 corridor.

“The US 36 Congestion Mitigation program is the largest behavior change program Commuting Solutions has ever implemented,” said Audrey DeBarros, executive director of Commuting Solutions. “We expected the program to be successful, but what we didn’t anticipate was the overwhelmingly positive response and sustained commute behavior changes.”

Over the course of two years, the US 36 Congestion Mitigation program allowed workers in the US 36 corridor to apply for free or reduced public transportation options. This included services such as vanpooling, carpooling, Eco Passes, and 10-ride ticket books. When the program began, Commuting Solutions anticipated about 2,015 program participants. By the conclusion of the study 2,637 commuters learned about and received incentives for various commuter options.

“The US 36 Express Lanes allow travelers to choose how they want to get around: bus rapid transit, carpool, solo driving for free or by paying a toll or biking. The Congestion Mitigation program was able to educate and help people try these choices,” said David Spector, Colorado High Performance Transportation Enterprise Director. “Providing commuting options and incentives during large construction projects helps travelers deal with construction impacts, and prepares them to take advantage of the new mobility choices after construction.”

The response to the US 36 Congestion Mitigation program created a ripple effect throughout the northwest metro region. In two years, daily vehicle miles traveled (VMT) reduced by over 12,500 miles per a day and over three million miles over the course of the year. This is the equivalent of 120 times around earth or 13 trips to the moon.

Not only were vehicle miles traveled significantly reduced due to the US 36 Congestion Mitigation program, but commuters also reported a significant behavior change. The US 36 Congestion Mitigation Program resulted in a 15 percent decrease in drive-alone rate and a 64 percent increase in transit usage.

“When the US 36 Congestion Mitigation program began, we hoped that it would introduce commuters to transportation options other than driving alone,” said Steve Erickson, DRCOG director of communications and marketing. “The sustained behavior changes among commuters is really impressive, and people are clearly seeing the benefits of smarter commute choices.”

The US 36 Congestion Mitigation program concluded in March 2017. The program not only increased awareness about public transportation and commuter options but played a critical role in alleviating traffic congestion during and after the US 36 Express Lanes project. For additional information about the Congestion Mitigation program and alternative transportation options, please visit www.commutingsolutions.org.

Commuting Solutions Continues the Fight for Transportation Funding

Colorado State Capitol

When the legislative session began, Commuting Solutions gathered with local stakeholders to prioritize finding a stable, sustainable and new funding stream for transportation throughout the northwest metro region and beyond. To be one of the most innovative corridors in the state and continue the vital work of connecting our communities, all eyes were on the legislator and elected officials to find common ground.

Finding a sustainable transportation funding source is not only critical to our work, but to communities throughout the state. To keep up with our growing population and deteriorating infrastructure, local governments need citizens help to support infrastructure financially. Commuting Solutions supported House Bill 17-1242, which received bi-partisan support and proposed allowing voters to approve a sales tax increase that would provide billions in transportation funding. Unfortunately, House Bill 17-1242 died in the Senate Finance Committee. Despite HB17-1242 dying in the senate, the legislative session ended with a couple positive outcomes.

The broad, public and private sector statewide support behind HB17-1242 from local elected officials, businesses and a diverse range of advocacy and environmental groups highlighted the importance of continuing the conversation of multi-modal transportation funding. At Commuting Solutions, we are excited to see the conversation continuing beyond the legislative sessions and the growing bi-partisan, public and private sector support underway to fund multi-modal transportation.

The legislator did pass Senate Bill 267 during the legislative session. This bill will provide about one billion dollars* for transportation. 25 percent of the funding is to be used for projects in rural communities and just 10 percent for transit. Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) has confirmed that many of the projects selected will from the tier one development plan and project list. Currently, CDOT is working with planning partners and local governments to see how much projects from this list will costs and which projects they will be moving forward with.

So, what can you do to see transportation investments being made in your community in the future? Andy Karsian, state legislative liaison for Colorado Department of Transportation recommends staying engaged in the conversation and taking advantage of resources available to deepen your knowledge of transportation issues in your community and beyond.  A diverse group representing the private sector and advocacy groups is deliberating continuing the progress for a potential ballot issue so please stay engaged as that conversation evolves.

Commuting Solutions is committed to continuing the dialogue and advocating for the multi-modal transportation needs of the northwest metro region. Stay engaged with our efforts by keeping an eye on our social media and website.

*CDOT estimates that roughly five to six billion dollars is needed to complete projects on their top priority list.

Commuting Solutions would to thank Andy Karsian, state legislative liaison for Colorado Department of Transportation for sharing information about the Legislative Session and the next steps for CDOT.

Membership Meeting on June 13

Learn. Network. Inspire.

Save the date for our upcoming Membership Meeting on Tuesday, June 13! Our guest speakers will be sharing an inside look at the 2017 legislative session, what it means for transportation in the northwest region and the latest innovations in transportation technology. Bring a colleague or connect with fellow private and public sector stakeholders, just don’t forget to mark your calendar for our Membership Meeting on Tuesday, June 13 from 7:15 a.m. – 9:00 a.m. at the 1st BANK Center.

E-Bikes to Extend Access to US 36 Bikeway and Beyond

 

Electronic bikes (e-bikes) are positively impacting the ability for commuters to cycle to work every day. At the beginning of 2016, Commuting Solutions convened government staff from Boulder, Boulder County, Louisville, Superior, Broomfield and Westminster to encourage local communities to adopt electronic bike ordinances that would enable e-bikes to be used along the US 36 Bikeway and other local cycling facilities. Commuting Solutions supports e-bikes due to the ability to ride further, tackle tougher terrain and increase accessibility to the US 36 Bikeway for all ages and abilities.

The US 36 Bikeway is 18 miles long and connects communities throughout the northwest metro region. Not only does it connect businesses to their employees, but makes cycling to work a safe commute option. E-bikes allow cyclists to travel farther than they normally would and eventually play a leading role in encouraging more commuters to try commuting by e-bike along the US 36 Bikeway, creating another viable commute option.

E-bikes not only help commuters travel further, it also increases a rider’s ability to travel across challenging terrain that would otherwise be too difficult. To put this into perspective, the US 36 Bikeway has a 700-foot elevation gain when riding Davidson Mesa going in and out of Boulder. This can be a challenging climb for an experienced rider and daunting task for a novice cyclist. E-bikes allows cyclists to decide when they want to pedal and when they need an extra power boost.

Expanding city ordinances along the US 36 Bikeway to allow e-bikes would mean increasing access to cycling for all ages and abilities. The northwest metro region is nationally recognized for the progress along the US 36 Corridor and this includes the US 36 Bikeway. The US 36 Bikeway is an incredible treasure for our communities. Commuting Solutions is committed to increasing access to the bikeway so more people can not only enjoy their ride, but connect to our communities along the way.

We are pleased that Louisville city council recently approved an e-bike ordinance and the jurisdictions of Broomfield, Westminster and Boulder County are in the process of doing the same.  In addition, a state bill passed the legislature this session which enables e-bike usage unless a community opposes it.  This is exciting progress for the state and for the cycling industry to make Colorado more accessible for all users.

For more information about the US 36 Bikeway and to view our online map, visit commutingsolutions.org.  The 2017 Bike Northwest print map will be available in June; email us at info@commutingsolutions.org to have a map mailed to you.  Ride on!

RTD Citizens Advisory Committee Calls for Applications

Group advises agency on FasTracks Plan and RTD strategies and initiatives

DENVER (April 26, 2017) – Residents of the eight-county Regional Transportation District (RTD) who are interested in public transit issues and community engagement are encouraged to apply for one of three vacancies on the RTD Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC).

The 17-member citizens group has advised the agency on its voter-approved FasTracks program for the past 10 years. Last year, the committee’s role was expanded to also advise RTD on its strategies and initiatives.

CAC members represent a wide variety of backgrounds, interests and professional experiences. The group’s public outreach meetings keep metro-area citizens informed of FasTracks progress and RTD programs and encourage input from local communities.

Individuals interested in applying for a position on the CAC should submit letters of interest to rsherman@crlassociates.com. Letters should address the following:

  • Explain why you want to serve on the committee and what unique experience and skill-set you will bring.
  • Describe affiliations and volunteer activities you believe will add value to the committee.
  • Statement of personal objectives/goals if accepted for CAC membership.

Please limit response to two (2) typed pages and feel free to attach a resume. Letters must be received by the close of business on May 12, 2017.

Appointments to the panel shall be made to ensure a broad representation of stakeholder interests, to achieve diversity and to provide geographical representation within the district.

Selection criteria will include, but not be limited to, residency within the RTD district; a demonstrated interest in public transit and the FasTracks program; previous community service; experience working with local jurisdictions on regional issues; and professional expertise.

The CAC’s role is to:

  • Continue to monitor and provide input on the improvements for each corridor in the FasTracks Plan.
  • Become familiar with the District’s strategic plan and long-term vision.
  • Provide region-oriented advice to RTD regarding the implementation of the strategic plan, its strategies and initiatives.
  • Represent the citizen perspective on behalf of a wide range of stakeholder interests and  community organizations.
  • Gather information from community members to share with the agency.
  • Share information with community members to promote public awareness of the agency’s  programs and projects.
  • Other tasks as assigned by the RTD Board of Directors.

For more information, contact Roger Sherman at 303-592-5465.

About the RTD Citizens Advisory Committee
The RTD Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC) monitors and provides region-oriented advice on the FasTracks Plan and RTD’s strategic plan. It represents citizen and community perspectives on transit issues, and promotes public awareness of RTD’s programs, services and projects. The 17-member volunteer committee represents a cross-section of the region’s population and holds monthly work sessions.

HB17-1242 is Critical to the Future of Transportation Funding in Colorado

I-70 west of Denver

A catalyst for economic growth and lifeline for communities in the northwest metro region, transportation serves a critical role in connecting people to places and fostering a vibrant economy. House Bill 17-1242 (HB17-1242) is the first bill in decades to receive bipartisan support to provide sustainable funding for multi-modal transportation infrastructure, services and programs for 20 years. If approved by the General Assembly, HB17-1242 would ask voters this November to increase sales tax by .05 percent to generate millions of dollars to address the statewide and local transportation needs locally for our communities and counties and throughout Colorado.

We’ve taken a stance of support for HB17-1242 because it is our best option to fund elements of our states transportation system. This includes highways, roads, public transit, bicycle infrastructure and pedestrian improvements. Currently, 84 percent of Colorado’s major urban roads are in poor or mediocre condition and cost Coloradans thousands of dollars in additional car maintenance and repairs. This physical cost doesn’t include the additional 49 hours metro Denver drivers spend in traffic congestion. Without sufficient funding, our system will become less safe and a lack of travel options make it difficult for people to get to work, harms the quality of life for employers and makes it harder for companies to attract top talent. Colorado needs to invest in transportation to compete against other neighboring states who have already chosen to do so.

HB17-1242 is a critical step in not only keeping Colorado roads safe, but also ensuring that communities throughout the northwest metro region continue to have vibrant economies and is a leader in commute options for generations to come. Currently, HB17-1242 passed the House of Representatives and the Senate Transportation committee. Our advocacy efforts aren’t over yet! Join us in advocating for the future of multi-modal transportation by calling your senator and expressing your support for HB17-1242.

For additional information about the funding structure for HB17-1242, click here.