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.