Trans Bond II defeat a lost opportunity

During the final days of the 2015 legislative session, Senate Bill 272 was defeated in the House State Affairs Committee on a party line 6-5 vote. A week earlier, the Colorado Senate approved the legislation by a bipartisan 18-17 vote.

S. 272 was sponsored by Rep. Brian DelGrosso, R-Loveland. Sens. Randy Baumgardner, R-Hot Sulphur Springs, John Kefalas, D-Fort Collins, Vicki Marble, R-Fort Collins, John Cooke, R-Greeley, and Jerry Sonnenberg, R-Sterling, voted for the measure. The bill also had support from Reps. Perry Buck, R-Windsor, and Steve Humphrey, R-Severance. We owe each of them a big thank you for their efforts to improve transportation not only in Northern Colorado but in the entire state.

What was S. 272? The bill would have allowed the voters the opportunity in November to vote to allow the state of Colorado to issue bonds that could have raised $3.5 billion for much-needed highway and transit projects around the state. Almost 60 identified projects were included in the bill. With record low interest rates, the idea was to issue bonds, with no new tax increase, similar to what Colorado did in 1999. Trans Bond I was a huge success; TREX in Denver, the Harmony Road and Interstate 25 intersection in Fort Collins, and new lanes on I-25 through Colorado Springs are just a few of the 24 projects completed years ahead of time and with considerable cost savings to the taxpayer.

The bill’s defeat, in our opinion, was an opportunity lost.

Instead of going to the voters this year and letting them decide whether this plan had merit, we now must wait until 2075 to get new capacity on I-25. Instead of giving the voters an opportunity to address critical transportation projects, such as I-70 West from Denver, I-25 from Castle Rock to Monument, U.S. Highway 50 in Southern Colorado near Pueblo or Colorado Highway 71 in Eastern Colorado, we must continue to wait – wait for bridges to collapse; wait for our highways to crumble; and wait for much-needed safety projects which would have saved lives to continue to be put on hold.

And who is responsible for the defeat? Gov. John Hickenlooper. Instead of collaborating with the Northern Colorado Legislative Alliance, The Fix I-25 by 25 Group, Colorado Counties, Inc. and the many other organizations throughout the state that championed this solution, the governor actually opposed the bill and, even worse, lobbied for its defeat. When asked what his plan is to address this growing crisis, he said he has no plan other than raising taxes.

An opportunity lost, but not all hope is lost.

On June 15 from 7:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at Island Grove Regional Park in Greeley, the first Transportation Summit in more than a decade will take place. U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., will be the keynote speaker. Hickenlooper, U.S. Reps. Ken Buck, R-Colo., and Jared Polis, D-Colo., and Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., are all invited and expected to participate. Panel discussions from members of the North I-25 Coalition and Highway 85 Coalition will give updates on the actions being taken to address transportation issues in our region.

The Transportation Summit 2015 is free and open to anyone. All you need to do is call 970-304-6496 ext. 3762 to register. Come, join us, and make a difference in solving our future transportation challenges.

Sean Conway chairs the North Front Range Metropolitan Planning Organization. He and Barbara Kirkemeyer are Weld County commissioners.

During the final days of the 2015 legislative session, Senate Bill 272 was defeated in the House State Affairs Committee on a party line 6-5 vote. A week earlier, the Colorado Senate approved the legislation by a bipartisan 18-17 vote.

S. 272 was sponsored by Rep. Brian DelGrosso, R-Loveland. Sens. Randy Baumgardner, R-Hot Sulphur Springs, John Kefalas, D-Fort Collins, Vicki Marble, R-Fort Collins, John Cooke, R-Greeley, and Jerry Sonnenberg, R-Sterling, voted for the measure. The bill also had support from Reps. Perry Buck, R-Windsor, and Steve Humphrey, R-Severance. We owe each of them a big thank you for their efforts to improve transportation not only in Northern Colorado but in the entire state.

What was S. 272? The bill would have allowed the voters the opportunity in November to vote to allow the state of Colorado to issue bonds that could have raised $3.5 billion for much-needed highway and transit projects around the state. Almost 60 identified projects were included in the bill. With record low interest rates, the idea was to issue bonds, with no new tax increase, similar to what Colorado did in 1999. Trans Bond I was a huge success; TREX in Denver, the Harmony Road and Interstate 25 intersection in Fort Collins, and new lanes on I-25 through Colorado Springs are just a few of the 24 projects completed years ahead of time and with considerable cost savings to the…