Breaking Down the 2019 Legislative Session

The 2019 Legislative Session wrapped up on May 3 and while transportation was not a primary focus in the session, there were still several pieces of legislation that will have a positive impact on transportation.

Here is a breakdown.

TABOR Reform – HB19–1257 and HB19-1258

What is it?

This session there were two bills that would amend Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR) and what is done with the extra revenue from taxes.

TABOR caps the amount of money the state can spend each year to the current budget plus growth and inflation. Extra revenue is returned to the taxpayers.

The first bill will ask voters to allow to the state to keep the money and the second bill requests that the funds be split equally between transportation, K-12 education and higher education.

The third allocated to the Highway Users Tax Fund would be divided with 60% going to the State Highway Fund, 22% to the counties and 19% to municipalities.

How does it impact you?

If these bills are approved by voters this coming November, it would mean you’re less likely to get a state refund from your taxes. However, it would provide some short term funding for much needed transportation infrastructure projects.

What’s next?

Both of these bills will be put on the November ballot for voter approval. If approved, the bill will take effect no later than 30 days after the vote.

Climate Change – HB19-1261

What is it?

This bill, introduced by House Speaker and Boulder native, KC Becker, set specific targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the state: reduce output 30% by 2030 and 90% by 2050.

How does it impact you?

In order to meet these goals, the state is going to become serious about reducing vehicle miles travelled by single occupancy vehicles, electric zero-emission vehicles and more, given that transportation is Colorado’s second-largest source of carbon emissions.

Impacts of Transportation Changes – SB19-239

What is it?

SB19-239 will require CDOT to convene a stakeholder group to examine the economic, environmental and transportation system impact of new and emerging technologies.

The group will be responsible for:

  • Quantifying the amount of carbon emissions produced by ridesharing vehicles
  • Quantifying the amount of carbon emissions that can be reduced by zero-emission vehicles
  • The incentivizing of multiple occupant trips
  • Identify additional or improved transportation infrastructure
  • Access the cost associated with the above

How does it impact you?

While there may be no direct impacts to the public immediately, the recommendations produced by this stakeholder group will be influential on transportation policy in Colorado for years to come and will shape how our infrastructure is developed going forward.

Delay Referral of Transportation Revenue Anticipation Notes (TRANs) – SB19-263

What is it?

A ballot measure that would ask voters to authorize the sale of Transportation Revenue Anticipation Note (TRANs) is being delayed to November 2020, as opposed to November 2019. If approved in 2020, the measure would:

  • Require the sale of TRANs in a maximum amount of $1.837 billion
  • Require an additional $42.5 million be transferred from the General Fund to the State Highway Fund and that TRANs debt service be paid from the SHF

How does it impact you?

This bill will eventually provide additional short-term funding for transportation as it won’t be put to the voters until 2020, but doesn’t create a long-term sustainable source. It’s another band-aid on the situation while funding is figured out.

What next?

While our state legislators did a good job at finding short-term funding sources for vital transportation projects in Colorado, the next big hurdle we face is figuring out a long-term solution. This could be raising the gas tax, adding a sales tax or an idea that hasn’t been thought of yet. Solving our transportation funding crisis continues to be a top priority for our state and local government.

 

What You Can Do to Celebrate Earth Day

Ride a Bike. Take a Carpool. Ride a Bus.

Save the Earth.

Earth Day is April 22 and a huge topic of conversation recently has been climate change and our worsening air quality. When scientists and experts talk about the environment, its easy to become overwhelmed by the magnitude of the numbers presented and think that there’s no hope. But while there are big changes that need to be made, as individuals we can make a huge impact by making small adjustments in our everyday lives.

Every Trip Counts

One of the Commuting Solutions’ mottos when we talk about commute behavior change is, “Every trip counts.” When people think about changing their commute behavior, they often think of it as an all or nothing deal. They think they either carpool every day or not at all. But changing commute behavior doesn’t have to be changing how commute every day. It’s as simple as committing to commute by bike one day a week throughout the summer or forming a carpool to use every other week with coworkers.

The Environmental Impact of Cars

With Earth Day coming up this month, it’s a good time to think about why these small behavior changes can have such a large impact on our environment and our air quality in the northwest metro region. The average car will emit 6 tons of carbon dioxide every year. Multiply that by the number of residents in our beautiful region and its easy to see how that’s a problem. Transportation for commuting and trucking is responsible for 29 percent of the greenhouse gases emitted in the United States every year according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

Every gallon of gas emits roughly 24 pounds of carbon dioxide between the production of the gas and the smog that comes out of tailpipes. In comparison, one 4-mile bike ride keeps roughly 15 pounds of carbon dioxide from being emitted into our atmosphere. By swapping your car for a bike, you’re already making a huge difference and that’s just one trip!

Small Steps For a Big Change

If you aren’t a cyclist, there are other options that will both reduce your carbon footprint and save you money while doing it! Carpooling is a great option for a sustainable commute option. By forming a carpool, you’re reducing the number of single-occupancy vehicles travelling on our road. If your commute is over 10 miles one way, then another great option is a vanpool. It’s estimated that sharing a ride with one other person will reduce carbon emissions by over 8 pounds! To find a carpool that works for your commute, join the My Way to Go network to find commuters in your area. If you’re interested in joining a vanpool, learn more on the Way to Go website.

To make a difference for our environment, you don’t have to go sell your car (although we wouldn’t say no!). You can just look at your commute and see what small changes you can make for the benefit of our environment. Whether its driving to the nearest bus station and commuting by transit the rest of the way, finding a carpool or committing to bike to work a couple days a week, there is an option that works for your commute! If you need help finding a commute option that works for you, email us at info@commutingsolutions.org and we can help you find your smart commute to start your positive change for the environment this Earth Day.

Join The Conversation!

To learn more about climate change and steps being taken around the world to reduce the impact of transportation on our environment and atmosphere, join us at the Third Sustainable Transportation Summit to hear from regional experts, academics and local elected officials to discuss these issues and more. Register today at: https://cs2019sts.eventbrite.com.

Commuting Solutions is Hiring! Join Our Team.

Part-Time TDM Specialist

April 5, 2019

Commuting Solutions is seeking a Transportation Demand Management (TDM) Specialist to join its collaborative, dynamic and creative team! This exciting position will be responsible for implementing specific TDM projects in the northwest metro region. This includes researching and developing TDM strategies and first and final mile solutions, helping plan and coordinate TDM-related studies, and overseeing data collection and analysis for programming. This position reports directly to the Executive Director and is part-time, 15-20 hours/week.

SH 119 First and Final Mile Study

  • Engage corridor businesses in study recommendations.
  • Oversee the study RFP process to select a consultant team who will implement the planning effort.
  • Coordinate with local government staff, DRCOG, RTD, and CDOT to facilitate the study and ensure community needs are achieved.
  • Conduct monthly contract oversight and reporting with agency partners.

US 36 Casual Pilot Program

  • Oversee program evaluation. Coordinate with technology partners on programming.
  • Compile analysis and complete final contract report on pilot program findings to be shared with the TDM community and other stakeholders.

Regional Bike Share Program

  • Coordinate the RFP process for a regional bike share system.
  • Review responses and relay information to communities.
  • Assist ED in creating bike share identity and outreach tactics.

Bike Northwest Online Map

  • Work with communities to ensure that GIS updates are made quarterly for the regional map.
  • Host meetings to discuss map development and yearly changes to format and distribution.

Northwest Region Mobility Report

  • Collect data from key partners.
  • Assist consultant in pulling together necessary materials.
  • Review report draft and assist with edits.

Bike-n-Ride Shelter Program Management

  • Convene stakeholders to implement the program implementation in Broomfield and Westminster to launch two secure bike parking shelters.
  • Establish the front-end program administration to distribute RFID key cards to the public.
  • Measure program effectiveness and conduct data collection to measure shelter utilization.

Administration

  • Complete grant monthly and annual reports.
  • Assists Executive Director, as needed.

Requirements

  • Bachelors or Masters in Urban Planning or related field (current students are also welcome to apply).
  • Two years of project management experience.
  • Experience in data collection, analysis, and best practices.
  • Familiarity with Transportation Demand Management.Familiarity with project management practices a plus.
  • Motivated, self-starter with strong interpersonal skills, good judgment and the ability to communicate professionally with diverse audiences.
  • Position responsibilities could change based upon organizational needs.

Please submit cover letter, resume, salary requirements and salary history by Friday, April 19 to Audrey DeBarros, Executive Director, audrey@commutingsolutions.org.

Top 8 Reasons We Love Transit in the Northwest Metro Region (And You Should Too!)

There are so many reasons to love where we live. The unparalleled access to nature, the booming economy, the amazing local culture… the list goes on. One of the lesser mentioned reasons is that we have an amazing and varied transit system. While we are primarily served by the Regional Transportation District and their services, we benefit from local services in Boulder, the FLEX service by TransFort and so much more. Take a look at why we love transit in our region!

The Flatiron Flyer:

There is no easier, quicker or relaxing way to go from Boulder to Denver or vice versa than the Flatiron Flyer. Between the schedule-free service, the comfortable seats and the US 36 Express Lanes, there is no longer any reason to deal with driving alone on US 36. Another perk of the Flatiron Flyer? With ample parking available at the stations along the corridor, you no longer have to worry about finding a parking spot at your final destination, which for those of us who hate parking in Denver is the most invaluable perk of all.

SportsRide: BuffRide, BroncosRide & More:

When planning to attend any major sporting event, professional or college, there is the inevitable discussion surrounding who’s going to drive and where to park that won’t cost an arm and a leg. With RTD’s variety of game day services, the only question that needs to be asked is what time are we catching the bus. It’s a great way to enjoy the region’s diverse sporting activities without worrying about how you’re going to get there.

The On-Demand FlexRide Service:

One of the best services that RTD has to offer in the northwest metro region is the FlexRide service. It’s RTD’s reimagining of the former Call-n-Ride service. You can now order a ride up to 10 minutes in advance or schedule a regularly occurring trip. All of the vehicles are fully accessible, and the service continues to provide seamless connections between services and final destinations.

 

RTD & Innovation:

We are fortunate to be served by RTD, an organization that wants to bring the best and newest innovations to its users. That’s why this year alone RTD has announced partnerships with Lyft and Uber, that will allow users of the app to see transit options in the Lyft and Uber This will make it easier to plan and pay for multimodal trips throughout the region. RTD has also launched its first Autonomous Vehicle (AV) pilot program to work on integrating the new technology into their service offerings.

SkyRide to DEN:

Next time you have a trip planned, let RTD take care of getting you to the airport. The AB, AA, AT and A-Line services connect travelers from all over the Denver metro region to DIA with ease. For the northwest metro region, there is no faster way to get to the airport than by hopping on the AB service and letting RTD do the driving. You get to avoid traffic and paying for parking. Plus, you are dropped off right at the terminal. It couldn’t be easier!

The B-Line:

The B-Line is the first commuter rail service to connect Union Station in Denver and Westminster Station, constructed as part of the RTD FasTracks project. Westminster Station is located at 69th Avenue and Grove Street with the station and transit plaza designed to be the central hub within the surrounding 135-acre transit-oriented development area. The service serves nearly 1800 riders a day and is an easy way to commute into Denver.

FLEX Your Commute:

Another great service available to commuters in the northwest metro region is the FLEX route which connects Fort Collins to Boulder. The bus comes equipped with WiFi, charging ports and only cost $1.25 one-way! The route stops in Loveland, Longmont and Berthoud. For your next trip between the two cities, give the FLEX a go!

Bustang on I-25:

The Bustang is CDOT’s Interregional Express (IX) bus service, connecting commuters along the I-25 corridor from Fort Collins all the way to Denver on its North Line. Each Bustang coach is equipped with a restroom, bike racks, free WiFi, power outlets and USB ports.

 

Remember What Fast Feels Like With Casual Carpool

For the better part of the last year, the Commuting Solutions team has been building from the ground up Colorado’s first casual carpool program that will operate on the US 36 corridor. As part of preparing for this program, our team has extensively researched existing examples nationwide, particularly in Washington D.C. and San Francisco. With the launch of our Casual Carpool on US 36 program, we want to share all that we’ve learned with you so you can join us in our excitement to pilot Colorado’s first casual carpooling program for the US 36 Express Lanes.

What is Casual Carpool?

Casual carpool is a mutually beneficial concept for drivers and riders alike. Drivers pick up riders so that they can travel in the High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes at a reduced cost or no charge at all. Riders receive an easy and affordable ride to work.

How Did Casual Carpool Get Started?

Casual carpool, also known as sluglines, is a concept that began in the 1970s in Washington D.C.  during the Oil Embargo. The embargo created shortage of fuel which led to massively inflated gas prices. Driving alone was no longer a feasible or affordable option. Commuters needed a way to form quick and easy carpools give them free access to the HOV lanes. This need led to the creation of casual carpools, also known as sluglines. It was a grassroots movement that addressed the high costs of gas and toll charges.

Sluglines are a free mode of transportation created by people searching for a ride and drivers in need of additional passengers to utilize the HOV lanes. It was a simple enough concept. Those in a need of a ride would line up at a meeting point and drivers searching for passengers would pull up and signal how many riders they needed to drive in the HOV lanes and where they were going. Even with the advent of new technology and the end of the oil crisis, slug lines are still a popular commute option. The casual carpool trend spread across the county and can be found in several major metropolitan areas. Two of the largest programs can be found in Washington D.C. and San Francisco, with over 10,000 commuters a day using casual carpools in each city.

Why Casual Carpool on US 36?

US 36 connects Boulder to Denver via I-25 and is one of the busiest commuter corridors in the Denver metro area. Following the 2017 completion of the US 36 Express Lanes, 15 percent of the travelers have been carpoolers. As our region continues to grow, it’s important that we continue to increase the HOV usage of these lanes for many reasons. The introduction of casual carpooling to the corridor presents an innovative opportunity to alleviate current congestion, maximize usage of the express lanes and improve the air quality of the region.

 

Casual Carpool on US 36 builds on the casual carpool models of Washington D.C. and San Francisco by using technology to connect riders and drivers along the corridor. The program will utilize the technology platform of Waze Carpool, Waze’s on-demand carpool app that launched nationwide in October 2018. The app allows users to connect ahead of time and meet at pre-determined locations to start their carpool.

Is it Safe?

While the idea of carpooling with a stranger may give you pause at first, Casual Carpool on US 36 is designed to be a safe program for both the riders and drivers. By allowing carpools to match through the app ahead of time, the driver and riders have an opportunity to chat through the messaging feature to get to know each other before hopping in the car with each other.  If during these conversations, something doesn’t feel right, all users have the right to politely decline the ride.

Riders and drivers have the right to opt out of the carpool at any point. If you show up on the day of your carpool and you get a gut feeling that makes you uneasy, as a rider you can not get in the car and as a driver, you have the right to not pick up your passenger.

The Waze Carpool app also includes the MyCompany program, which allows your company to create a group on the app where employees can match exclusively with their coworkers.

By having pre-determined pickup locations, riders don’t have to share their personal addresses.

Since Casual Carpool on US 36 operates as a mutually beneficial program, we encourage all involved to be respectful towards each other and to create a safe environment ensuring the integrity of the system.

What are the Rules?

Since casual carpool isn’t a formal system with any kind of governing body, there are no official rules. However, over the years, participants across the city have created an unofficial unspoken agreement about the code of conduct for casual carpools.

  1. Follow the Golden Rule: Treat others (and their car, belongings, etc.) how you would want to be treated.
  2. Remember: just because it’s casual, doesn’t mean there aren’t definite boundaries when it comes to riding in someone else’s car
    1. Don’t eat in the car without checking in with the driver first.
    2. Follow up to a. – don’t drink anything but water in the car. Save your morning joe for the office.
    3. Don’t apply your makeup in the car.
    4. Save all calls for once you’re out of the car.
    5. Make sure you don’t smell bad or bring any offensive odors into the car.
  3. Drivers, there are rules for you too.
    1. Clean up your car before picking up riders.
    2. Don’t play your music too loud.
    3. An amendment to rule b: keep your music/radio selection appropriate and non-offensive.
    4. Drive safely. This isn’t the Fast and the Furious. Now is not the time to show off how well your car handles fast turns.
  4. Safety. Comes. First. Whether you’re a rider or a driver, do you best to make the ride to work safe for everybody.
  5. We’re not all morning people so keep the conversation to a minimum. You can always use your Casual Carpool on US 36 as a way to make friends but read the mood of carpool first.
  6. There may be bumps in the road so if a disagreement occurs during your Casual Carpool on US 36 just stay calm and finish the ride.

Give it a go!

Now that you know what it’s history and why you should use it, the only thing left to do is give it a go! Download the Waze Carpool app on your smart phone and start arranging your first ride. Casual Carpool on US 36 is a pilot program which will continue through December 2019 and is made possible through a federal grant administered by the Denver Regional Council of Governments. We appreciate the support of RTD, DRCOG and our local government partners along US 36 to join us in testing this innovative project.

 

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Continuing the Coalition Building: The 10th Legislative Breakfast

A Message of Hope and Determination

The 10th Legislative Breakfast presented a resounding message of hope from start to finish. At the annual event to kick off the legislative session and to begin navigating the road ahead for transportation funding in our region, the message from each speaker were linked by the same common thread: we must work together to solve the transportation crisis in Colorado.

Joined by Representative KC Becker, Speaker of the House, Senator Faith Winter, Senate Transportation & Energy Committee Chair and Representative Matt Gray, House Transportation & Local Government Committee Chair, the Legislative Breakfast focused on what needs to happen following the defeat of Proposition 110 in the November.

Despite this loss, our legislators and industry leaders are more determined and motivated than ever. Their focus going forward is to continue building the coalition across the entire state that will demand a sustainable funding source for transportation.

Entering the Legislative Session

The Colorado State Legislature is in a unique position going into the 2019 session. There is a majority of Democrats in both the House and the Senate, as well as having a Democrat as Governor. Speaker of the House KC Becker believes that this majority will give an advantage to transportation bills that looks at creating a new, sustainable funding source for transportation instead of trying to allocate funds from the State General fund.

There is also a distinct advantage for the northwest metro region as the Chairs from both the House and Senate transportation committees are from the region and are joined by Representative Edie Hooten and Senator Rachel Zenzinger from our region as well. They understand the widespread need to fund both transportation projects and multimodal transportation in the state. The highest priority for our region is finding funding for the projects found on the Northwest Area Mobility Study (NAMS), completed in 2014.

Senator Faith Winter highlighted the importance of looking at all funding mechanisms for transportation, including tolling or a referred measure, because getting funding from the state general fund isn’t a viable option.

When looking back at the November election, Representative Matt Gray said his big takeaway was that the Colorado voters don’t want to have to choose how transportation is funded. Instead, the elected representatives need to do a better job of leading the way and creating funding for transportation projects.

Regional Priorities

Boulder County Commissioner Elise Jones spoke directly to the transportation issues and project that directly impact the northwest metro region. The US 36 Mayors & Commissioners Coalition, along with Commuting Solutions, determined a policy agenda and list of priorities for the year ahead to keep our region moving in the right direction. The list includes exploring funding options to complete the Northwest Commuter Rail Project, implementing arterial Bus Rapid Transit (BRT)/Enhanced Bus Service networks on corridors identified in NAMS as well as implementing recommendations from the First and Final Mile Study and continuing to seek out funding opportunities for transportation projects.

The Future of Mobility

The Legislative Breakfast also featured a panel comprised of industry and agency leaders who spoke to the future of transportation and mobility in Colorado. On the panel was Mizraim Cordero, Vice President of Government Affairs for the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce, Tony Milo, Executive Director of the Colorado Contractors Association, David Genova, CEO & General Manager of RTD and Herman Stockinger, Acting Deputy Director of CDOT.

The panel concluded that funding large multimodal transportation projects is possible if we all work together. Herman Stockinger pointed to the example of the US 36 Express Lanes project, where there wasn’t just one source of funding. The parties involved worked to find funding where they could and after obtaining a $15 million TIGER grant to start, then were able to find funding for the entire $500 million project.

 

What Comes Next?

As we continue into 2019, it is important to continue working together, not only at a regional level but at a state level. This effort cannot be undertaken by the northwest metro region alone. We are closely following and actively participating in conversations surrounding new funding sources and legislation that could impact the northwest metro region. Commuting Solutions is taking an active role to explore easing the existing Regional Transit Authority (RTA) law.

Whether you work, live or play in the northwest metro region, we encourage everyone to help us navigate the road ahead in 2019. Attend our upcoming Membership Meeting on March 12                                                                                         to continue engaging in the transportation conversation.

What Brings Us Joy this Holiday Season

What Brings Us Joy this Holiday Season: Commuting Solutions Staff Share Holiday Cheer

Winter is a magical season in Colorado. Local streets and neighborhoods are filled with festive lights and decorations celebrating the holiday season. People pull out their heavy winter parkas, scarves and mittens to brave the sunny, winter chill. Ski racks are put back onto cars after a summer of sitting in the garage.

At Commuting Solutions, its no different. Our office has been decorated with lights, garland and ornaments to celebrate the season. We all have a reason to love the season and the magic it brings. Learn about why each member of the Commuting Solutions team loves the winter season and one of our proudest moments this year.

Audrey DeBarros, Executive Director

Audrey’s favorite part of the holiday season is all her family traditions that she shares with her husband and their two teenagers. They bake and decorate cookies, trim the tree and spend plenty of time in the mountain playing in the snow. The holiday season is all about spending time with her family and taking a well-deserved break from work.

Audrey’s favorite accomplishment for Commuting Solutions this year was the active and involved role that we served in the Proposition 110 campaign on the behalf the northwest metro region. From getting op-eds and Letters to the Editors in all the local papers to producing a series of videos about the local projects that would benefit from funding if the proposition passed, Audrey was one of the northwest region’s strongest advocates for the proposition.

 

Jade Krueger, Senior Outreach & Programs Specialist

Jade is Commuting Solutions’ resident adventurer and outdoor activity enthusiast. Her favorite thing about winter in Colorado? The SNOW! She loves getting to go out and play in the snow, whether she’s skiing down the slopes, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing or hanging out up in a mountain town. As a proud owner of an EPIC pass, she’s already been up the mountains to ski a handful of times and can’t wait to keep having a great ski season!

Jade’s favorite accomplishment at Commuting Solutions in 2018 was getting to create, organize and run innovative programs to increase mobility in our region. Along with Boulder County’s Mobility for All, Jade helped to pilot a program at the Aspinwall and Josephine Commons communities in Lafayette to provide free Lyft credits for residents to help increase their mobility and travel options. She has also been hard at work on several programs that will be launching in early 2019 so keep your eyes open!

 

Molly Lord, Marketing & Outreach Assistant

Molly’s favorite part of the holiday season is all of it! From picking out the tallest tree she can find to baking cookies and pastries, there’s no part of the season she doesn’t love. She loves spending time with her mom baking and watching classic Christmas movies like White Christmas.

Molly’s favorite accomplishment at Commuting Solutions this year was working alongside Audrey on the Proposition 110 campaign. Getting to be a part of a statewide campaign and learning what all goes into a political advocacy campaign was an amazing learning experience. She also loved getting to go out in the community and talk to voters about Proposition 110 and all the benefits it would bring to our region.

Rachel Setzke, Executive Assistant/Events

With the holiday season here, Rachel is looking forward to having her two kids out of school and at home for a few weeks. Her favorite part of the holiday break is spending time doing puzzles and baking with her husband and kids.

Rachel’s favorite accomplishment at Commuting Solutions was the planning and execution of the Sustainable Transportation Summit in May. Rachel was involved from start to finish: gathering presentation proposals, developing topics for each of the breakout sessions and getting to meet and network with the attendees and speakers. The Sustainable Transportation Summit was a huge success for Commuting Solutions and Rachel was a big part of that.

 

 

All of us at Commuting Solutions want to wish you a happy holiday season and a wonderful New Year. We are so excited to continue our impactful work in 2019 to bring our region the latest innovations in transportation and to advocate for our region’s transportation needs.

A Time for Thanks

A Time For Thanks

As we near the Thanksgiving holiday, it is traditional to look back at the year and think about what we’re thankful for. At Commuting Solutions, we have had a year full of partnerships, programs and people that we are so thankful to work with. 2018 involved much collaboration around our advocacy work.

Collaboration in Advocacy

We kicked off the year with a massive partnership to host our Transportation Matters Business Initiative with local chambers of commerce and economic development partners in the communities in the northwest metro region. It was an amazing opportunity to build relationships with business leaders and residents and to hear their input to the Northwest Area Mobility Study (NAMS).

Building on this momentum, Commuting Solutions continued to work with and collaborate with the US 36 Mayors & Commissioners Coalition (US 36 MCC) to advocate for the northwest metro region. When the Let’s Go, Colorado campaign and CDOT announced they were making a list of projects throughout Colorado that would receive funding if Proposition 110 passed in November, they fought for the northwest metro region. The Coalition worked tirelessly to ensure that our projects would be on the list because the northwest metro region hasn’t gotten our fair share of transportation investments.

As we move past the 2018 midterm elections and continue to look for ways to fund vital transportation infrastructure investments in our region, we continue to be grateful to have such a strong and dedicated partner in the US 36 MCC. While it will be a rough road ahead, we have no doubt that together we can accomplish our goals and bring innovative and sustainable transportation options to the northwest metro region.

Our Guiding Force

We are also grateful to our Board of Directors who bring together public and private sector individuals who are passionate about our mission. It is with their wisdom, dedication and guidance that Commuting Solutions’ continues to be an invaluable resource for the northwest metro region. We were reminded of their commitment at our annual strategic planning retreat in October. Together, they planned for the next three years and set the stage for our capacity building priorities.

Last, but certainly not least, we are grateful and thankful every day for you, our members, the commuters and residents of the northwest metro region. Without you, we would have no inspiration or motivation for the work we do to improve traffic congestion, air quality and the lives of everyone who lives here. So thank you for you continued support and we promise to continue advocating for our region and to bring innovative transportation solutions to all who live here.

 

Why We’re Voting For Proposition 110 (And You Should Too!)

 

Why #voteYESon110 This November

It’s midterm election season and we are all being bombarded with campaign messages telling us to vote yes or no on different propositions or who to support for governor. It can be overwhelming and sometimes those messages don’t always tell us what we need to know to make the most informed decision possible when we vote.

This year, you’ll be faced with two diametrically opposed propositions for how transportation in Colorado should be funded in the coming years: Proposition 109, or Fix Our Damn Roads, and Proposition 110, better known as Let’s Go, Colorado.

The Propositions Summed Up

Proposition 109 asks voters to approve bonding $3.5 billion to fund specified road and bridge expansion, construction and maintenance and repair projects throughout the state. This money would be repaid by taking money out of the state budget.

In contrast, Proposition 110 asks voters to approve a 0.62% sales tax increase that would sunset in 20 years to start working on the $9 billion backlog of transportation projects throughout the state of Colorado. The revenue from the sales tax would be divided between state and local governments. 45% would go to the Colorado Department of Transportation and the State Highway Fund, 20% would be allocated to county governments, 20% to local governments, and 15% would go towards a state multimodal fund.

Why 110?

When looking at each proposition, it does initially appear as if both could remedy the transportation problems we have in the state of Colorado. However, Proposition 110 provides a much more holistic approach to addressing the funding issues we’re currently facing.

Proposition 110 not only seeks to fix the current problems we’re facing with our transportation infrastructure but seeks to provide our state with funding to address our growing population and our needs for the next 20 years. Proposition 109 only provides enough funding to repair our small percentage of our current roads and build new lanes. That is not going to be enough to keep up with our growing population and increased road use.

The allocation of funding that Proposition 110 suggests is an intentional way of addressing that different cities and counties throughout the state have vastly different transportation needs and priorities. In the northwest metro region, we are looking to improve our transit and other multimodal options and increase the capacity of our roads to address our drastically growing population. In other regions of the state, they need to make essential repairs to their existing roadways.

Sean Duffy, a spokesperson for the Let’s Go, Colorado campaign, emphasized this point, telling the Westword publication that, “That’s why we’re trying to reach folks all over the state, whose needs have been neglected for too long and have to be addressed. This has social and economic and quality-of-life impact, and we’ve got to get serious about it.”

CDOT has a statewide approved project lists that would receive funding if the ballot measure is passed. For the northwest metro region, the list includes State Highway 119, State Highway 7, State Highway 287 and the US 36 & Sheridan Underpass. These are just the projects on the statewide project list; local and county governments will have funds to allocate to their own projects. The US 36 Mayors & Commissioners Coalition proposed projects to the statewide list that had been approved in 2014 through the Northwest Area Mobility Study (NAMS).

Proposition 110 also takes into consideration that Colorado residents aren’t the only drivers using our roadways. A sales tax would draw in revenue for transportation funding from the over 30 million visitors who come to our state every year.

For residents of the northwest metro region, being asked to approve another transportation tax following the disappointment over the lack of progress of Northwest Rail after passing the 2004 FasTracks initiative, can be a difficult pill to swallow. However, there is an important distinction between Proposition 110 and FasTracks. The revenue from the FasTracks tax was overseen by the Regional Transportation District (RTD), whereas the revenue from Proposition 110 will be overseen and distributed by the Colorado Department of Transportation.

What Next?

Until Election Day on November 6, Commuting Solutions will be busy advocating for Proposition 110 and all the benefits it will bring to our region. You can get involved in a few ways:

  • Engage with us on social media. We’re on Facebook as Commuting Solutions and on Twitter as commutingsltns. Like, share and comment on our posts related to the campaign.
  • Grab a yard sign and put it out for all your neighbors to see. Commuting Solutions has a supply of Let’s Go, Colorado yard signs and we’d love to give you one. Email us at info@commutingsolutions.org to request one.
  • Ask Commuting Solutions to speak at your next event. We would love to come speak to your business or organization about Proposition 110 in depth. Email us at info@commutingsolutions.org to request a speaker!

 

Looking Back: The Start of the US 36 Mayors & Commissioners Coalition

Will Toor is director of the transportation program at the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project (SWEEP), a Colorado based nonprofit that advocates for energy efficiency in six southwestern states. In this role he works to advance both smart growth transportation strategies and electric vehicles. Prior to working at SWEEP, Will spent 15 years in local government, as mayor of Boulder, Colorado , as Boulder County Commissioner, and as chair of the Denver Regional Council of Governments (DRCOG).  He serves on the Colorado Air Quality Control Commission and the Mobility Choice Blueprint board of directors.

Roots in Conflict

I still remember attending my first meeting of the US 36 Major Investment Study (MIS) back in 1998, with my infant son slung across my chest in a Baby Bjorn, soon after I was first elected to Boulder’s city council. Life with an infant was exciting but chaotic – which kind of described the 36 MIS debates. There were so many different perspectives – “We need rail! No, we need to expand US 36 to ten lanes! No, we need HOV lanes and better bus service!”  – coming from the different communities, that we couldn’t reach agreement. And without a consensus on the corridor, it was pretty clear that the outcome would be nothing happening – US 36 would just sit there, getting worse and worse.

Against this backdrop, three mayors began talking about whether we could change the outcome –Tom Davidson from Louisville, Bill Berens from Broomfield and me. At the time, Boulder and Broomfield were locked in conflict over Broomfield’s plans to build the Northwest parkway, and to develop what Boulder viewed as sprawl along 36, and we were pretty much disagreeing about everything. But a series of conversations  – sometimes over coffee, sometimes beer – convinced us that we could find common ground on plans for 36 – and that if we could, that probably the whole corridor could. Out of these conversations the US 36 Mayors & Commissioners Coalition was born.

The Birth of the Coalition

I still remember the day Bill Berens and I testified together in support of the proposed US 36 MIS alternative – the first time people had seen us in public arm in arm instead of arguing. It made a big impression, and helped get RTD and CDOT on board.

And over the years, I think the initial theory was born out in practice. We had lots of vigorous arguments about what transportation investments we should support, and how best to move these forward – but were always able to come to agreement, and to present a unified front to key decision-makers from regional, state and federal agencies. And that unity made all the difference.

Better Together

The coalition successfully resisted pressure from the Owens administration to add more highway lanes and hundreds of millions of dollars in cost. The years of effort promoting a true multimodal project with Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), HOT lanes and a bikeway on the highway corridor paid off when the federal government provided a $10 million TIGER grant and a TIFIA challenge grant, championed by Congressman Polis. The unity paid off when, amazingly, the Coalition was able to leverage that $10 million grant and TIFIA challenge into a $500 million project that combined funding from RTD, CDOT, DRCOG, federal funds and the private sector. It took a while to go from concept to an actual BRT service on 36 (my infant son graduated from high school about the time that 36 was completed), but much of the original vision was realized.

The challenges clearly aren’t over – for example, we need to complete the missing elements of BRT on 36 and complete the arterial BRT corridors that connect to the corridor – but looking back over the last twenty years I’m amazed how far we have come by working together.