DENVER – Today, the Colorado Transportation Commission approved a multi-year plan to invest $1.6 billion in resources provided from the state’s general fund by the legislature. Following a comprehensive planning and outreach project that launched in May and reached thousands of citizens across the state – including in public meetings in every county – the approved plan addresses key transportation issues that are common across Colorado and require unique solutions in each local community.
“Colorado must do the most we can with the resources we have, and I am proud to see our transportation department embody those values—both through an extensive outreach process and a detailed plan that reflects the public’s priorities to reduce traffic and fix our roads and bridges,” said Governor Jared Polis. “I am pleased to see that every area of our state is recognized here, from the towns and cities along the Front Range to our mountain and rural communities that are pillars of our agricultural and recreational economies. We will all benefit from smart planning and strategic investment to get where we are going quicker.”
The approved plan addresses the issues identified throughout CDOT’s outreach process:
Restoring the department’s focus on fixing the basics: CDOT heard clearly from citizens that we need to do a better job taking care of the roads across our expansive system. More than half of the funds allocated this week will help fix roads and bridges in both urban and rural areas.
Focusing expansion projects on key strategic corridors that are key to Colorado’s economy: To ensure that funds have an impact, new capacity investments are focused on key corridors that carry most of Colorado’s growing population and the travelling public. Nearly 40% of funds are targeted towards corridor-wide modernization of I-25, which directly serves roughly 85% of the state’s population. Other major capacity projects include a down payment towards fixing Floyd Hill, a well-known choke point on I-70, and rebuilding I-270, among others. In total, 55 projects will improve freight corridors (officially designated freight delivery routes) which are so critical to Colorado’s economy.
Making the largest investment in Colorado’s rural road network in recent history: This plan includes 41 rural road projects totaling over $330 million, which will dramatically improve the driveability of Colorado’s rural roads – some of which have not been comprehensively treated since the 1970s.
Investing in safety and mobility for key urban arterials: The state roadway system includes many roads that traverse urban areas, and these roadways are important routes for drivers, pedestrians, bicyclists, buses, and urban freight. As Colorado grows, these corridors have come to account for an outsized share of accidents involving non-motor vehicle travelers — a problem that is unfortunately on the rise nationwide. The CDOT project list includes $25 million to kick off a new program focused on improving safety and mobility along roads like Colfax, Federal, and Sheridan in Denver, in addition to several specific projects that will enhance important urban routes like Highway 119 in Boulder and I-70B in Grand Junction.
“We heard loud and clear from citizens across Colorado that they have some key concerns with our transportation system — safety and basic road condition; managing the impacts of growth and worsening congestion; and the need for more options to get to their destinations,” said CDOT Executive Director Shoshana Lew. “Now that our neighbors have helped us prioritize the resources that our legislature authorized, we will focus on project management. That’s why today, we are announcing some of the steps that we will take to show taxpayers that we can deliver these projects on time and on budget, so they can see their precious dollars at work.”
A list of the projects can be found here. CDOT also announced during the meeting of the Transportation Commission that funds will be spent with enhanced accountability measures to ensure that the public can see how dollars are being spent on projects. CDOT will show project budgets and progress on a new online dashboard that will track all projects included on the new plan. The dashboard will show how much money is being spent on different components of projects like construction, right of way, environmental clearances, and engineering and design. Further, to help maximize dollars going toward physical roadway improvements, CDOT is setting a new target for the amount these projects can spend on design costs — 20% for major projects and 15% for resurfacing projects that require less intricate designs.
“The Commission has set a course on reaffirming safety, integrating a statewide transportation system, and prudently investing taxpayer dollars, ” said Transportation Commission Chairman Bill Thiebaut. “These are not gold-plated projects we voted on today, but critically needed transportation improvements that will save lives, reduce congestion, and move Colorado’s economy in harmony with our health, environment and way of life.”
Next month, the Transportation Commission is expected to vote on a prioritized list of multimodal projects, utilizing legislatively-directed funds allocated for multimodal projects across the state. Further, over the next few months, CDOT and the Transportation Commission will continue work on Your Transportation Plan, including a prioritized list of projects for the next ten years, which would require future funds to support all of the proposed projects.