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Transportation Funding Gaining Momentum in Colorado

After the historic passage of Senate Bill 001 during the legislative session this spring, stakeholders from all sectors are hoping voters will keep the transportation momentum moving forward this November.

Tony Milo, Executive Director, Colorado Contractors Association and Jake Martin, Campaign Director, Let’s Go, Colorado shared Coloradoans for Colorado’s vision for sustainable transportation funding during Commuting Solutions’ quarterly Membership Meeting this week.

“Today, we are here to get Colorado moving again and propose a ballot measure that will put real, ongoing funding towards our statewide transportation system,” explained Milo.

What exactly is Let’s Go, Colorado proposing and how could it impact the northwest metro region? We have the inside scoop on their proposed ballot measure.

What is Let’s Go, Colorado?

Let’s Go, Colorado is a ballot initiative to address the funding needs for transportation across the state of Colorado. The ballot initiative is being put forth by a coalition of nearly 30 organizations statewide commonly known as Coloradoans for Colorado.

Let’s Go, Colorado is proposing a 0.62 percent sales tax that would provide money to the State Highway Fund, Local Transportation Priorities Fund (Cities & Counties) and a Multimodal Transportation Fund.

Tell me more about the potential ballot measure…

After an in-depth look at every mechanism available to fund transportation, the coalition determined that a sales tax was the most equitable, single funding source.  The sales tax option will raise enough to address our transportation needs while ensuring that everyone (including tourists) pay the same rates. In the first year, this solution is estimated to raise $767 million in revenue.

Worried about how this sales tax could impact your pocket book? The sales tax would be about six cents on a ten-dollar purchase.

How did we get here?

Colorado has a $9 billion backlog of transportation related projects that desperately need funding but there isn’t any available money in the state budget. This deficit didn’t appear overnight, so how did Colorado get here?

In 1992, Colorado passed a gas tax to help fund transportation projects in the state. 22 cents from every gallon of gas purchased goes towards transportation funding. Despite inflation, a higher cost of gas and growing transportation needs, this tax has not changed in almost 30 years.

Costs have also increased dramatically since 1992. The cost of resurfacing a road has increased by over 120%. The Colorado Department of Transportation can barely keep up with the costs of maintenance, let alone funding new projects.

What next?

The Let’s Go, Colorado ballot initiative has until August 6 to collect 98,492 signatures to get the initiative onto the November ballot.

Currently, Commuting Solutions has taken a position of conditional support of the Let’s Go, Colorado initiative, contingent upon the inclusion and level of funding of projects from our region in the ballot project list. The US 36 Mayors & Commissioners Coalition and Commuting Solutions has written a letter to the Colorado Department of Transportation outlining the projects they would need funded in order to support the ballot initiative.

If you would like to sign the Let’s Go, Colorado petition to get it on November’s ballot, click here.

To learn more about the state of transportation in Colorado, go to commutingsolutions.org.

 

Transportation Gains Momentum

What’s Been Going on with Commuting Solutions

Things are always moving and changing at Commuting Solutions and the last month has been no different. Between hosting our Sustainable Transportation Summit, closely watching the progress of SB-001 up until the end of the Legislative Session and progress on the State Highway 7 study that began earlier this year, it has been a full and busy month.

State Highway 7 Study & State Highway 119 Study Build Momentum

Map of State Highway 7 (Courtesy of RTD)

State Highway 7, connecting Boulder to Brighton via Arapahoe Road, Baseline Road and East 160th Avenue, will be undergoing a Station Area Master Plan (STAMP) study over the next two years following the completion of the 2017 Planning and Environmental Linkages (PEL) Study. $200K has been awarded to fund the study, which officially began in spring of 2018.

The PEL study determined that there was “both a desire and a need for transit service along the SH 7 corridor in the future” and recommends transit priority and queue jumps at select signalized intersections, along with highway cross sections that included full depth, full width shoulders for bus-on-shoulder operation where feasible.

The results of the PEL grant are congruent with the findings of the City of Boulder’s 2018 East Arapahoe Transportation Plan which also recommends redesigning the streets to accommodate Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), High Occupancy Vehicles (HOVs) and new shared technologies.

To advocate and coordinate for the construction of this vital multimodal corridor including BRT and a regional bikeway, local governments and organizations have formed the SH 7 Coalition and Commuting Solutions is proud to be a member of this coalition.

Given the relative affordability of housing and the amount of undeveloped land along this corridor, there is great potential for future growth which will increase the travel demands of SH 7. It is projected that by 2040, without BRT, a Single Occupancy Vehicle (SOV) trip from Brighton to Boulder on SH 7 will take upwards of 80-90 minutes. With a dedicated BRT lane, that trip would only take 60 minutes.

RTD is hosting public meetings to discuss the progress of the State Highway 119 Study and receive public input. If you were unable to attend the meeting in Longmont yesterday, there will be a second meeting tonight [May 24] in Boulder at the University of Colorado at from 5:30-7:30 p.m.

SB-001 Marks a Big Step for Multimodal Transportation in Colorado

On May 8, at the end of the legislative session, SB-001 was passed by both chambers and is the first major piece of transportation funding legislation since 2009. SB-001 provides for an allocation of funds from the state budget to transportation in 2018 and 2019: $495 million in 2018 and $150 million in 2019. The bill also created a ballot measure to issue up to $2.4 billion in bonds to be voted on by the public in 2019.

This bill also addresses Colorado’s need to invest in a multi-modal future with the creation of a new multi-modal transportation fund that will receive 15% of the new revenue and bond proceeds, which will come out to $96.75 million over the next two years.

SB-001 is a monumental step towards closing the $9 billion gap in transportation funding that exists throughout Colorado and helps to establish Colorado’s interest in creating a multi-modal future for the whole state.

On May 19, the Statewide Transportation Coalition voted to proceed with a .62% sales tax increase initiative for the November ballot to help create funding for statewide transportation projects.

Thank You for a Successful Sustainable Transportation Summit

Commuting Solutions’ Sustainable Transportation Summit took place on May 9 at the Longmont Museum and Cultural Center and the event was a smashing success. Over 130 attendees gathered to hear the latest insights on multi-modal transportation trends and innovations from local and regional thought leaders.

We want to thank all our amazing panelists and speakers as well as everybody that attended the event. Our event would not have happened without your support and expertise. If you were able to attend the event, we would appreciate hearing your feedback on the event by taking a quick survey.

 

 

Wrapping It Up

Stay tuned with Commuting Solutions this summer we follow the progress of the state wide ballot initiative and celebrate Bike to Work Day on June 27.

Advocacy in Action: Standing Up For Transportation

Whether we are advocating for transportation funding at the Capitol, convening coalitions to explore new avenues of revenue or working with local stakeholders to bring innovative commuter options to the region, advocating for our community is part of the fabric of Commuting Solutions.

Advocating for Our Partners

At the beginning of this month, Governor Hickenlooper called a special session to address a bill-drafting error with Senate Bill 267 which caused the Regional Transportation District (RTD) to lose roughly $560,000 in revenue each month since the legislation took effect in July 2017. In a demonstration of support for one of our longstanding partners, the Commuting Solutions Board of Directors and US 36 Mayors & Commissioners signed a resolution to encourage state legislators to fix the errors made. While we are disappointed by the outcome of the special session, we’ve been working with coalitions in the region to seek out new funding opportunities to improve the access and economic vitality of the Northwest metro region

Building Transit-Oriented Communities

The US 36 Mayors & Commissioners, Commuting Solutions, Boulder County, Broomfield, City of Boulder, Longmont and Louisville have been hard at work developing an application to compete for federal funding through the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) program. The proposal our coalition submitted focuses on implementing railroad safety improvements throughout the Northwest corridor to create quiet zones at critical railroad crossings. Communities throughout the region grew up around the railroad tracks, but as the train horn noise levels now reach 96 to 110 decibels due to the Federal Transportation Administration’s (FRA) train horn rule, many residents and businesses find the noise creates unlivable conditions. The current noise levels pose a threat to existing and future transit-oriented development districts.

Rendering of downtown longmont
Rendering of transit-oriented community in Longmont.

The requested TIGER funding will close the gap in funding needed to complete the remaining safety improvements at 28 railroad crossings. The funding and implementation of railroad crossing improvements will help ensure the livability and economic vitality for the northwest corridor for today and the future, and leverage pedestrian and transit investments for years to come. In addition to submitting a proposal for safety improvements at railroad crossings in the region, Commuting Solutions also signed a letter of support for a project submitted by Westminster that would construct a grade separation along the US 36 Bikeway to allow cyclists to safely connect to RTD Park-n-Ride stations near Sheridan Station and 88th Avenue.

Helping Progress Move Forward

Commuting Solutions Executive Director, Audrey DeBarros gives public comment at RTD meeting.

As we explore transportation funding opportunities with our partners to accommodate the implementation of a modal rich environment, we also remain committed to advocating for progress on current initiatives identified through the Northwest Area Mobility Study. Recently, Audrey DeBarros, executive director of Commuting Solutions provided public comments at an RTD meeting pushing for continued support for the SH 119 Bus Rapid Transit project. Recently, the RTD Finance Committee recommended retaining $30 million in the strategic business plan for SH 119, which will go before the Board of Directors for approval on October 24.

From advocating for our community at the state level to submitting a competitive proposal for federal funding, Commuting Solutions is committed to leading the way for innovative solutions to increase the quality of life and economic vitality of the region. If you are interested in engaging in the transportation conversation, join us during our 9th Annual Legislative Breakfast.

Our Summer Vacation: Creating Lasting Community Connections

Palisade peaches, warm weather, and countless biking adventures aren’t the only reason why we love summer at Commuting Solutions! From farmers markets to office picnics to RTD Rider Appreciation – our summer is filled with opportunities to connect with communities throughout the northwest metro region.

With fall right around the corner, we wanted to say farewell to summer by sharing some of our favorite memories from the past few months and give a sneak peek at what is on the horizon for Commuting Solutions!

RTD Rider Appreciation Events

From early mornings to evenings after work, we celebrated all our transit riders that have chosen a stress-free commute through our RTD Rider Appreciation events!

RTD Rider Appreciation events not only help us show our transit riders how much we care, but also provide an opportunity for our bus riders to meet their local RTD representatives and share feedback on their transit trips. So far, we have hosted four RTD Rider Appreciation events, passed out over 2,500 snacks, connected with over 5,000 commuters and have had countless positive conversations.

We aren’t done with RTD Rider Appreciation events! Don’t miss one of our three remaining events at an RTD station near you! Learn more by clicking here.

 

MyRide Distribution Events

In an effort to encourage residents in Louisville and Lafayette to try the bus as a simple step for cleaner air, we joined Boulder County in distributing RTD MyRide cards preloaded with $50 in transit fare. Over the course of five MyRide distribution events, we helped to distribute over 1,500 MyRide cards! The popularity of the program exceeded everyone’s expectations, with hundreds of residents and employee’s attendance at each MyRide distribution event. Due to such high demand of the program, the City of Louisville elected to distribute an additional 200 pre-loaded MyRide cards.

We wanted to say thank you to Boulder County, City of Lafayette and the City of Louisville for providing the $50 MyRide cards and increasing access for residents in Louisville and Lafayette to multimodal transportation options.

While summer may be coming to an end, we still have a handful of events on our calendar! In the coming months, you can spot us at Broomfield Days, Chili Fest and our upcoming Membership meeting. In addition to creating lasting connections in our community, we’ve also been hard at work this summer to keep the momentum going this fall.

Sponsorship

Commuting Solutions is excited to share that we currently have sponsorship opportunities available for 2018! Why should your organization consider a Commuting Solutions Sponsorship?

  • You’ll be recognized as a leader in the transportation conversation and a champion for providing commuter options to the northwest metro region
  • Our sponsors receive premium brand exposure at all of our 2018 Signature events – allowing them to reach a larger audience
  • Gain exclusive access to industry experts, elected officials and local thought leaders

To learn more about our Sponsorship opportunities click here.

Quarterly Membership Meeting

Join us on September 12 from 7:15 – 9:00 AM at the 1st BANK Center for our upcoming Membership Meeting. Transportation experts and business leaders will share an inside look at what the future holds for transportation in the northwest metro region.

Our quarterly Membership Meetings, in partnership with the Northwest Chamber Alliance, provide a unique opportunity for stakeholders from across the northwest metro region to connect and learn more about initiatives that will continue to increase the economic vitality and commute options of our region.

Membership Meetings are complimentary for members of Commuting Solutions and the Northwest Chamber Alliance. Save your seat today by clicking here.

Thank you to our community members, partners, and commuters that made this summer one for the books! Keep an eye out for us this fall at community events and stay tuned for information on about exciting new programs that are underway.