DOUG ROBINSON: Build more highway lanes with bonds — $3.5 billion worth
Author: Doug Robinson - June 7, 2018 - Updated: June 7, 2018
In the nearly four years since we last had a gubernatorial election, some 300,000 individuals have moved into our state. If you’re among these 300,000, let me just say — welcome to Colorado. Our roads are terrible.
They weren’t always this way. Crumbling infrastructure and traffic congestion weren’t always part of Colorado life. Twenty years ago, we had leadership that understood the importance of investing in our infrastructure, and understood that infrastructure isn’t just cosmetic, and it isn’t simply a matter of traffic. Fixing our roads is a matter of public safety, but over the last seven years, our leaders have made little effort to provide funds for our critically underfunded road projects.
CDOT estimates that we now have $9 billion worth of unfunded projects. Meanwhile, the demands on our roads are only increasing.
Let’s be honest; we’re not going to simply find the money we need to fix our infrastructure in the seat cushions down at CDOT. We have to get serious about creating a long-term plan for our transportation needs — one that includes long-term funding.
The legislature finally prioritized transportation funding this past session, providing $645 million over the next two years, with 85 percent earmarked for roads. This is to be applauded as a step in the right direction, but more is needed. I support asking the voters to bond $3.5 billion to be used to fix and improve our highways. This would be paid back by allocating the monies which were being spent annually on the Owens TRANS bonds and prioritizing approximately another $125 million from the budget.
If we want the taxpayers to approve such a measure, we have to be specific with our plans. We need to expand I-25 to four free lanes each direction from Colorado Springs to Fort Collins and tackle improving and expanding our mountain access. In addition, I-76, US 24, US 50, US 550 and other projects around the state need to be addressed.
But, we also have to improve efficiency at CDOT. Finding savings isn’t about massive cuts, it’s about small improvements. Simple things that we can change — like Florida did in outsourcing some of their road maintenance to private firms, a move that trimmed 12 percent from their maintenance budget, or West Virginia in changing the way de-icer is spread on their roads, a move that freed up $3 million. These are the kinds of small improvements than can be found everywhere — if we just take the time to look. And that starts by electing the right leader.
Most importantly, we have to make sure that we’re looking out for all of Colorado — not just the metro area. People around the state are fed up with our roads, and we have to create an infrastructure that serves all of our needs.