TR-05-4-Colorado Transportation Guiding Principles

**Note: the following serves as a guiding document only. CLUB 20’s Board of Directors and/or Executive Committee reserve the right to interpret and amend this document and the included principles as they deem appropriate per CLUB 20 policy to address specific proposed legislation, initiatives or projects.

Colorado’s economic development, tourism, quality of life, viability and sustainability are dependent upon having a safe, efficient and reliable transportation system statewide. Recognizing this, in 2005 a statewide coalition of communities and business interests that spanned the state and included the Metro Mayors Caucus, CLUB 20, Action 22 and Progressive 15 formulated consensus principles to assist decision-makers, community leaders and the public in developing a balanced approach to addressing Colorado’s Transportation Challenges. This 2012 update reflects the new economic realities that have emerged as a consequence of dramatically reduced federal funding and the 2007-2009 recession.

Over the past 30 years, Colorado has experienced periods of rapid growth that have expanded the urban footprint and increased infrastructure demand, weathered dramatic economic recessions, and witnessed the decline of its transportation infrastructure as a result of systemic underfunding. While in 2005 52% of Colorado’s highways are rated poor and 33% have deteriorated to the point of requiring full construction. Colorado bridges are in disrepair and 123 are rated as poor condition. Federal and state gas taxes have remained static for more than twenty years and an increase in the federal gas tax seems unlikely in 2017, 78% of our highway infrastructure needs or will need significant rehabilitation or even major reconstruction in the next ten years, and Colorado is rated 32nd in pavement condition among the 50 states. While bridge conditions have improved since the passage of FASTER in 2009, Colorado still has over 70 bridges that are rated in poor condition, and 172 on-system bridges and another 301 off-system bridges that are considered Structurally Deficient by federal bridge standards. Federal and state gas taxes have remained static for more than twenty years and an increase in the federal gas tax seems unlikely. While in 2005 52% of Colorado’s highways are rated poor and 33% have deteriorated to the point of requiring full construction. Colorado bridges are in disrepair and 123 are rated as poor condition. Federal and state gas taxes have remained static for more than twenty years and an increase in the federal gas tax seems unlikely. Federal funding has evaporated and the partisan paralysis in Congress offers little hope for relief. With this new reality, state, regional and local leadership are being called upon to develop new funding sources to address both current and future transportation maintenance and capacity needs in ways that maximize mobility, equity and transparency while minimizing cost. Local and regional governments will need to work closely with each other and the state to meet capacity and mobility needs.

These principles are intended to benefit all Coloradoans and should be considered as a whole, not advocated individually. Our diverse coalition is evidence that the urgency of our transportation issues demands solutions that transcend both political and geographic boundaries. To this end, we must continue to develop and enhance our comprehensive, long-term statewide transportation vision and ensure that it reflects both regional and local perspectives.

In this spirit, this document is a working, dynamic document.  All parties commit to remaining at the table where the principles may be amended or expanded as times and conditions change.

GUIDING PRINCIPLES

  1. Acknowledge the Role of Transportation in Regional and Statewide Economic Development and Help the Public to Understand the Importance of Investing in Our Statewide System. The comprehensive statewide transportation vision must recognize the vital relationship between the transportation system (air, rail, highway & transit), the efficient movement of people, goods and services (intra- and inter-regional), and Colorado’s economic sustainability.
  2. Invest Necessary Funding to Preserve and Maintain Colorado’s Transportation Infrastructure. Our current infrastructure is the foundation of our future transportation system. Maintenance and prevention are critical to protecting public safety, promoting mobility and wise stewardship of public investments. Moreover, deferred routine maintenance often becomes reconstruction at substantially higher costs.
    1. Mobility is impaired
    2. Maintenance should include state and local roads and bridges; transit; rail and aviation infrastructure.
    3. The transportation infrastructure should be maintained so as to meet established performance standards.
    4. Where appropriate, the transportation infrastructure should be improved to current design standards
  1. Invest Necessary Funding to Avoid and Alleviate Congestion and Improve Mobility Statewide. Enhancing and improving the current transportation infrastructure is critical to maintaining safety and enhancing mobility. Congestion increases the cost of consumer goods and services, wastes fuel, lowers business productivity and diminishes quality of life.
    1. Pursue multi-modal transportation solutions that provide access across the state and expand mobility options for people of all ages, incomes & abilities while preserving the quality of life in our communities.
    2. Support collaborative partnerships among localities in order to address unfunded transportation needs that do not diminish the possibility for a statewide solution.
    3. Encourage transit-oriented development (TOD) to reduce single occupant vehicle (SOV) demand and maximize local and regional investments in transit infrastructure.
    4. Improve and integrate bus and fixed-guideway systems (dedicated transit right-of-way’s).
    5. Expand capacity with HOV (High Occupancy Vehicle), HOT (High Occupancy Tolling) and Toll lanes.
    6. Reduce SOV trips and rate of growth in vehicle miles traveled.
    7. Support safe, accessible routes for cyclists and pedestrians.
    8. Explore and pursue opportunities to relocate commercial traffic (rail & truck), utilities and through-traffic outside of congested areas in cooperation with local governments.
    9. Colorado traffic congestion levels continue to increase, and travel times are expected to more than double by 2040 on congested corridors. CDOT has established a statewide congestion performance measure, and has targets related to slowing the growth of travel times on Interstate 70 between Vail and C-470 (as well as on I-25 between Northwest Parkway and C-470), and should make necessary investments to meet those targets.
  2. Efficiently Use Available Dollars. CDOT, the regions and local jurisdictions have demonstrated the ability to collaborate, innovate and right-size projects to meet current economic conditions.
    1. CDOT and local entities should cooperate on locally or privately-funded improvements consistent with regional and state transportation plans and procedures.
    2. Processes should strike a balance between the project purpose, environmental protection, environmental justice (defined by the 1994 Executive Order #12898- http://www.epa.gov/fedreg/eo/eo12898.htm), and public participation while achieving timely completion of the environmental review process.
    3. Off-system improvements that relieve state highway congestion should be considered for state funding.
    4. Encourage mutually beneficial processes and projects that promote collaboration between CDOT, regional organizations, local governments, transit providers, other agencies and the private sector.
    5. Whenever possible, leverage federal, state, local and private resources.
  1. Identify New Revenue Sources. Efficiency alone cannot solve Colorado’s transportation dilemma and it may be necessary to amend constitutional revenue constraints while retaining voter approval. Local jurisdictions that approve new revenue sources must be guaranteed that their share of the statewide transportation allocation will not be diminished as a result.
    1. Consider expanding or increasing existing user fees or funding mechanisms:
      • Increasing and/or indexing fuel tax
      • Vehicle Registration & Licensing Fees
      • Expand Tolling to Support New Capacity
      • Public/Private Partnerships
      • Congestion Pricing
    2. Evaluate and consider New Funding Mechanisms, including but not limited to a variety of new user based fees should be considered and piloted, including:
      • Mileage-based user/VMT fees
      • “Wheel Fee”
        1. Infrastructure utility fee
  1. Evaluate and consider other new funding mechanisms including but not limited to:
    • New tax sources such as sales tax with appropriate city/county share back
    • Development fees
    • Enhanced bonding authority
    • Infrastructure utility fees
    • Bicycle tax
    • Reevaluate the lottery system

6. Encourage Broad Participation in the Strategic Statewide Transportation Vision.

  1. Continue improving the planning process in developing, enhancing and implementing a comprehensive statewide strategic vision.
  2. Improve opportunities to encourage public input into the planning process.
  3. Improve communications between local, regional and state transportation agencies and the public; and encourage local and regional agencies to engage CDOT in developing their transportation priorities.
  4. Ensure that the statewide vision is coordinated with regional and local communities to assure priorities, plans and visions are consistent.
  5. Recognize multi-modal options for urban and rural areas.
  6. Elevate Public Awareness of the Statewide Transportation Challenges. In order to identify acceptable revenue solutions, the public must understand the vital relationship between transportation infrastructure and the economic viability of the state, regions and local communities. An educated public should also understand the need for transportation investments, the costs and impacts of inaction, the planning process and the opportunities for public input into that process.

Adopted May 2005

Amended September 7, 2012

Amended September 8, 2017