Pending legislation, traffic jams, paying for a 10-year plan and fixing Floyd Hill were all on the agenda when state highway director Shoshana Lew sat down with Mike Kopp for the latest episode of the podcast “In the Arena with Colorado Concern.”
The conversation was driven by Senate Bill 260, the legislature's plan to put $5.2 billion into the state's aging, overcrowded transportation system over the next decade. The plan, though, is funded primarily with new fees on gasoline, electric cars, deliveries and more, indexed to inflation.
Colorado Concern, a membership organization for executives, supports the plan as part of the coalition A Way Forward.
Colorado Concern said Thursday that the state's deteriorating roads and "out-of-control traffic" costs the Colorado economy more than $8.5 billion annually, which works out to $2,023 per driver.
Lew, the executive director of the Colorado Department of Transportation, and Kopp, Colorado Concern's president and CEO, talked about the dire need for a revenue source, given voters unwillingness to pass new taxes and the legislature's reluctance to dip into the existing state budget on an ongoing basis.
Opponents think the legislature should use the tax money it already has and steer that money into adding capacity and catching up on a backlog of repairs. Senate Bill 260 invests heavily in electric vehicles, multimodal transportation and mass transit.
“It's important not to sugarcoat how problematic the consequences could be if this doesn't work," Lew said. "Folks can argue the soup is too hot, the soup is too cold, but at the end of the day, we have to think of the nothing alternative."
Kopp, a former senator, calculated a potential outcome.
"If we cannot pass a statewide plan, metro areas will produce other plans and our statewide infrastructure will continue to suffer,”he said.
Kopp and Lew discussed the Floyd Hill bottleneck on Interstate 70 as a safety and congestion issue for travelers to and from the mountains.
“Floyd hill is the bane of the Denver metro area’s existence," Kopp said.
To listen to the podcast by clicking here.