road closed sign

A road closed sign at Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park.

A proposal to boost transportation funding in this year’s legislative session would entail adding a fee to gasoline purchases on top of the state’s gas tax.

The Colorado Sun reports that additional components of the revenue increase could include diversions from the general fund into transportation projects and a potential vehicle-miles traveled charge. Oregon piloted the first such VMT program in the United States in 2007, and participation is now voluntary in the initiative.

“There’s a lot of ways it could go wrong but there’s also a lot of momentum,” Rep. Matt Gray, D-Broomfield, told The Sun.

Colorado’s gas tax of 22 cents per gallon has not increased since 1992. A 2018 report on the state’s transportation infrastructure showed funding from dedicated sources like the gas tax has risen slowly — and in some cases decreased — over the last decade. In recent years, the legislature has diverted millions of dollars from the general fund to the state highway fund.

The Colorado Department of Transportation calculates that it spent $125 per person in the 1990s to work on the 23,000 miles of road lanes and 3,500 bridges in its purview. Now, the department spends $69 per person.

“It's easy to ask that we become more efficient and stretch those dollars, but when you look at the reality, we've been doing more with less for a long time. In fact, today we're really doing less with less,” CDOT wrote on its website.

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