Roads, Rail, and No Money

Jun 25, 2019 | Infrastructure

A significant amount of my focus is on transportation. It has been for some time. Because mobility has a huge impact on the economy, work force, and our general quality of life, it’s needed.

In this space I’ve regularly reported on the process to get North I-25 widened including the announcement last month about the Colorado Transportation Commission committing another $310M.

In the last 10 days, I’ve been in some other conversations about improving the transportation system in Northern Colorado.

The Front Range Passenger Rail Commission met in Fort Collins on June 14. Created in 2014, the group seems to be picking up some momentum with the new state administration. The Chamber is supportive of rail as long as it does not compete for funds necessary to widen state highways, including North I-25.

The challenge is that both rail and widening the interstate are very expensive and cost about the same amount of money. A widened interstate will move far more people AND freight than rail, so if a choice has to be made, we advocate to Fix North I-25 first.

The Transportation Commission did a tour of Northern Colorado last week. I’m happy to report their bus got stuck in traffic! Several of us had dinner with them on Wednesday evening at the Embassy Suites. They were very complimentary of leaders in Northern Colorado for being persistent, singularly focused, and solution-focused with a willingness to bring local resources into the mix.

The CDOT staff at the dinner also credited us with the $1 billion of general fund monies that CDOT has received over the past couple of Legislative Sessions. They believe that without the leadership of Northern Colorado, it would not have happened. And they are right.

Finally, there’s a discussion underway about a possible county ballot measure this fall to fund improvements to the Larimer County road system. No formal proposal has been developed but the conversation is about 0.15% to 0.25% for roads and another 0.25% for other county facilities. I’ll be attending a meeting next week to learn more. We’ll share more details as they become available.