Bills on ballot may affect highways


ALAMOSA — The Colorado Department of Transportation is looking for ways that it can obtain adequate funding for improvement of its services.

One way this could potentially be made possible is if either or both Propositions 109 and 110 pass on November 6th. During a presentation at Adams State University, Michael McVaugh, Region 5 transportation director for CDOT, shared information about how CDOT functions with its current budget as well as possible outcomes following the election.

Currently, the Colorado Department of Transportation spends more than $700 million on maintenance alone. There are also many other aspects such as snow removal and wildlife mitigation that are part of CDOT operations.

There is also a huge need for commerce security as approximately 75 tons of goods per resident per year are transported across Colorado, according to McVaugh. In 1991, the average amount spent per person from CDOT was around $125. By the time the mid 2000s-2010s hit, this number had seen a sharp decline. The amount is now down to $68.54 per person. With increasing populations and shrinking revenue from other sources such as gas tax, that number is projected to potentially drop to $41.46 by 2040, McVaugh said.  Colorado is also currently one of the lowest ranking states in road quality.

There has been a clear need for more funding for transportation that has been established for the State of Colorado, McVaugh added. There are numerous scenarios that could happen depending on the fate of these ballot initiatives.

If Proposition 110 passes, the state sales tax will be increased by 0.62 percent in order to increase investment in transportation. The increase is projected to raise up to $767 million in additional revenue during the first year and would also allow the state to bond up to $6 billion. The funds would be distributed across the state to meet various needs. There would 45 percent given to state highways, 20 percent to city transportation, 20 percent to county transportation, and 15 percent to transit, bicycle, and pedestrian needs.

Also, the transportation commission has identified a constrained $7 billion list of projects, which would also be given funds. There is a projected net increase of $7 billion for CDOT. The funds would have a 20-year sunset.

As for proposition 109, the scope would be more limited, McVaugh explained. There would be funds dedicated to transportation from the general fund. There would also be a one time up to $3.5 billion bonding authority that would be paid back over 20 years. One hundred percent of the funds would go to state highways. There would be a $2 billion net increase for CDOT. One difference between the propositions that McVaugh pointed out is that 110 would provide funds for projects within the San Luis Valley whereas 109 would not.

McVaugh and his team are hopeful that at least one of these measures will pass as it would enable CDOT to better maintain what they do have as well as the ability for possible improvements. The ultimate results will be left up to voters on Election Day.