Regional Transportation District Bill Passes House and Senate; Makes Way to Governor’s Desk

The Regional Transportation District (RTD) Operation bill, House Bill 21-1186, has passed both the House and Senate. The Senate passed the bill on its third reading with no amendments earlier this month.

The RTD Bill will provide greater flexibility to RTD to lower fares and take advantage of new revenue sources.

The bill will do the following:

  • Remove the requirement for RTD to cover 30% of operating costs through fare revenue. This will allow RTD to reduce fairs in order to boost ridership.
  • Allow RTD to develop district properties for retail, commercial or residential purposes.
  • Allow RTD to contract with nonprofits and local governments to help lower operating costs.

The revised bill can be read online.

Project Approved for U.S. Rep. Joe Neguse Member Designated Projects

The State Highway 119 and State Highway 52 intersection was recently selected as one of Congressman Joe Neguse’s Fiscal Year 2022 Member Designated Project.

Commuting Solutions and the Northwest Mayors & Commissioners Coalition submitted a $5 million request which, if selected, would complete the funding needed to reconstruct this important safety and multimodal project in the SH 119 corridor.

The U.S. House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure announced earlier this month that the Committee will accept requests for Member Designated Projects to be included for inclusion in the upcoming surface transportation reauthorization legislation under a reformed process that includes new transparency measures.

Other projects include:

Learn more information about these projects online.

Senate Bill 21-260 Transportation Bill Passes the Senate

Earlier this week, the Colorado Senate passed Senate Bill 21-260, a $5.3 billion transportation bill to fix roads and bridges, improve transit options, meet the state’s climate goals and future proof the state’s transportation system, with a 20-15 vote.

Earlier this month, Senate Majority Leader Steve Fenberg, Speaker Alec Garnett, Senator Faith Winter and Representative Matt Gray introduced the transportation bill, which will drive Colorado’s economic comeback, establish a sustainable funding source to improve roads, invest in electric vehicle charging infrastructure and expand multimodal and transit options to reduce congestion and improve air quality.

Recently, Commuting Solutions voiced support for the funding of this bill.

According to a release from the Colorado Department of Transportation, the funding will come from a fair and responsible mix of state, federal and fee revenue that reflects all the users and uses of the transportation system.

For the first two years, the proposal reduces vehicle registration fees. New fees won’t begin until mid-2022 and will be nominal, costing the average driver about $28 in the first year, and will be spread across all users using the system to bring down costs on people. The fees are estimated to raise $3.8 billion over the next decade.

The bill promotes collaboration between CDOT, the Department of Public Health & Environment (CDPHE) and the Colorado Energy Office.

Over the course of the 11-year plan set forth by the bill, nearly $2.8 billion will be generated through new fee revenue and the bill will leverage nearly $1.5 billion in state general fund revenue and stimulus dollars.

A Message from the Executive Director: May 2021

Earlier this month a new legislative bill was introduced which would be a big benefit to transportation in Colorado!

Senate Bill 21-260 will provide $5.268 billion in transportation funding to fix roads and bridges, improve transit options, meet the state’s climate goals and future proof the state’s transportation system. Commuting Solutions took a position of support for this transformative bill.

The transportation funding bill will save Coloradans money and time spent on the roads, it will create a transportation system that supports the economy and it will establish a sustainable funding source for the transportation system.

The transportation funding bill will save Coloradans money and time spent on the roads, it will create a transportation system that supports the economy and it will establish a sustainable funding source for the transportation system.

Another bill that was recently introduced is Senate Bill 21-238, if approved, would create a Front Range Passenger Rail District. Commuting Solutions voiced approval for this bill, which would create a district for planning, designing, developing, financing, constructing, operating and maintaining a passenger rail system, specify the territory, governing structure, powers and duties of the district.

I want to thank Colorado legislatures for working hard to create such great bills that will bring so many positives to transportation. We look forward to the partnerships across a local, regional and state level.

Cheers,

Audrey DeBarros, Commuting Solution Executive Director

A Message from the Executive Director: April 2021

Earlier this month, Commuting Solutions along with local partner stakeholders in the SH 119 corridor project, applied for two Congressional Earmark Requests through Congressman Neguse. One request was for the SH 119/SH 52 future intersection, and the other was for pre-construction of the SH 119 Bikeway and two First and Final Mile connections for Niwot and Boulder.

Congressional earmark requests allow local jurisdictions to apply for federal funding, which Congress members have the ability to direct, a process that hasn’t been approved in many years.

This federal funding is important, and a major step for the SH 119 corridor project because this is a critical connection to Larimer and Weld Counties as well as Boulder County. Congestion, safety and a lack of mobility options negatively impact economic growth, air quality and the quality of life for the community.

The future of the SH 119 corridor vision calls for adding managed/express lanes, Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) and a commuter bikeway. The anticipated cost of the project is $270 million, of which approximately $95 million is identified. Recognizing there is no one source of funding to complete the full buildout, we need to be vigilant in pursuing federal, state, regional and local funding as they become available.

One of the many strengths of our coalition is the ability to speak with one voice for the transportation needs of the northwest metro region. As funding for transportation is very constrained it is collaborations like this that set our region apart from those who are competing for the same limited dollars.

We will continue to keep you all updated about the funding opportunities that arise to continue this vital project for our region.

Cheers,

Audrey DeBarros

Commuting Solutions Executive Director

Employee Trip Reduction Program Meeting Scheduled

There is an upcoming transportation rulemaking process, initiated by the Colorado air Pollution Control Division (APCD) which could impact transportation dynamics for employees.

This rule is specific to employers’ efforts to reduce emissions from employee transportation to and from work that contributes to harmful air pollution.

The APCD intends to propose an Employee Traffic Reduction Program (ETRP) rule for consideration by the Air Quality Control Commission (ACQQ) in May, and request that a rulemaking hearing by set by August.

This rule would set goals for large employers to achieve sustained reductions in the number of people who drive alone, or “single-occupant vehicle” (SOV) employee commutes. A program that offers teleworking, public transit, ridesharing or other means not only benefits the air quality, but it can also improve employee wellness, retention and company culture.

Over the last several months, the Regional Air Quality Council (RAQC), local transportation management organizations (TMOs), metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs) and local government entities have been reviewing various models to assist employers in developing Employer Trip/Employee Traffic Reduction Programs (ETRP). Commuting Solutions has been working with partners for the last several months during this rulemaking process to ensure businesses are receiving support while also prioritizing sustainable options.

This plan is also a part of Gov. Jared Polis’ Greenhouse Gas Pollution Reduction Roadmap, which was approved earlier this year.

Input from the employer is highly desired and encouraged! To participate, a listening session for the general public, in both English and Spanish, is scheduled for March 18 from 6-8 p.m.

Register online for the events, or provide comments.

The RAQC will also continue the stakeholder process and invites interested employers to attend meetings scheduled for:

April 2 from 9:30 a.m. – noon

April 7 from 9:30 a.m. – noon

Submit comments online.

Transportation in the Colorado State Legislature

This post has been updated on March 18 to update information regarding a meeting that occurred on March 18. 

On March 18, Commuting Solutions participated in a meeting with the sponsors of the highly anticipated new transportation funding bill. The purpose of the meeting was to provide a summary of the bill’s new revenue sources and how the funds will be distributed.

Majority Leader Steve Fenberg, Speaker Garnett, Senator Faith Winter and Representative Matt Gray are sponsoring a bill in collaboration with the Polis Administration, which has not yet been introduced.

Sponsors called the bill “aggressively reasonable” and will address structural issues which will modernize how the transportation funding reflects how it is being used. The bill will save the public money, improve air quality and identify sustainable funding.

According to the presentation, nearly $3.9 billion from new fee revenue will modernize and future-proof the transportation system and stabilize funding over the next 11 years.

Feedback and suggestions are being collected by emailing coloradotransportationfeedback@gmail.com.

Another bill being discussed among the Colorado Legislature is a bill that would amend the provisions related to the operation of Regional Transportation District (RTD), Colorado HB 1186,  which is sponsored by Rep. Matt Gray, Rep. Tom Sullivan, Sen. Jeff Bridges and Sen. Faith Winter.

Currently, the bill is under consideration.

Commuting Solutions will discuss the position of the bill during a Board meeting in April.

A Message from the Executive Director: March 2021

Audrey DeBarros HeadshotThese last couple of weeks has been a big win for transportation in Colorado! On March 11, President Joe Biden officially signed a $1.9 trillion federal stimulus plan.

The plan will provide $350 billion in aid to state and local governments, nearly $30 billion for transit and $1.7 billion from Amtrak.

Democratic and Republican state lawmakers joined Gov. Jared Polis to unveil the $700 million Colorado Recovery Plan, which is set to go to “shovel ready” infrastructure projects, including repairs to bridges.

These shovel-ready projects will total $170 million, with hundreds of millions to be set for long-term infrastructure projects, such as investing in renewable energy and long-term sustainability as well as expanding broadband access and revitalizing main streets throughout the state.

The new federal and state funding is a tremendous benefit to projects in the northwest metro region! We are very appreciative of the funding and will be working with our partners to define priorities and projects.

Cheers!

Audrey DeBarros

Northwest Mayors and Commissioners Coalition Host Virtual Washington D.C. Meetings

The Northwest Mayors & Commissioners Coalition and Commuting Solutions have scheduled virtual meetings with dignitaries and legislative officials in Washington D.C. to discuss and advocate for transportation funding the northwest metro region.

Members are excited for the opportunity to advocate for our region and discuss all the corridor projects and transportation needs for our area!

Stay tuned for an update in April’s newsletter!