ELECTION: Highway projects not likely anytime soon

It would appear that if Colorado is to have a solution to its highway maintenance and capacity problems, it will be up to the Legislature — at least in the short term.

Voters came out against both Propositions 109 and 110 in tallies with 90 percent of counties reporting. As of this morning, with 1.8 million votes counted, both propositions were losing with more than 61 percent opposed to Prop. 109 and 59 percent opposed to 110. 

David May, president and CEO of the Fort Collins Area Chamber of Commerce, has been spearheading efforts in Northern Colorado to fix North I-25. He said his take away from the vote “may be that voters want a solution, not competing solutions. These measures could have provided needed funding for transportation. Now it’s back to the drawing board to find the money for important projects like widening of North I-25.”

“The state population will continue to grow as will traffic congestion, so the issue won’t go away. We will look to Gov. Polis and the Legislature for leadership, and we stand ready to help,” May said. “It appears that there were too many asking for money and even people who might have been inclined to support transportation were just asked for too much. Early on in a conversation with the 110 proponents we talked about the size of the proposal and reminded them that since the passage of TABOR, very little has passed statewide,” May said.

John Tayer, president and CEO of the Boulder Chamber of Commerce, said Boulder County voters brought a different perspective to the issue, given that Boulder voted in favor of Prop. 110 but not 109. “It’s clear that Boulder County voters recognized the distinction between a ballot initiative that would infuse additional funding into much needed transportation infrastructure investments and one that simply shifted limited financial resources from one state-wide priority to another,” Tayer said.

“While we remain open to further exploring comprehensive state-wide transportation investment solutions, the Boulder Chamber plans to focus on more localized collaboration with our regional business and civic partners to improve workforce commutes and generally make transportation more convenient across the Northwest Region,” he said.

Proposition 109, called “Fix Our Damn Roads,” would have authorized the state Legislature to sell $3.5 billion in bonds to expand state highways and require it to repay those bonds with $350 million a year from the state’s general fund.

Meanwhile, Proposition 110 would have raised the statewide sales and use tax by 0.62 cents for the next 20 years — that’s 6 cents on a $10 purchase — to pay for a $6 billion bond sale for highways, generate $9.8 billion for local roads and $3.3 billion for multi-modal projects including public transit, sidewalks and bike paths. Revenue from the tax would be divided, with 45 percent going to the Colorado Department of Transportation, 40 percent to local governments and 15 percent for multimodal projects.

Prop. 109 drew support from people wanting to fix the state’s roadways but who were reluctant to add taxes to pay for the upgrades. Bonds to support repair projects would have required the Legislature to pull money from other state services, such as education or higher education, to repay the bonds.

Prop. 110 drew support from those who also saw the need for repair roads but wanted to support local governments in their efforts to maintain streets and county roads — which are not paid out of state funds. Prop. 110 had a repayment mechanism in the form of an additional sales tax. The measure also provided money for so-called multimodal projects such as bike lanes, which some voters opposed.

Prop. 110 drew support from chambers of commerce, the Colorado Municipal League, and the construction industry. Prop. 109’s financial support came mostly from the Independence Institute, which typically opposes tax increases.

Prop. 109 included improvements to 66 state projects, including additional lanes to Interstate 25 in Northern Colorado, and projects benefiting Weld and Boulder counties.

Prop. 110 would have helped pay for a CDOT project list, which also included improvements to I-25 and multiple projects throughout the Boulder Valley and Northern Colorado.

State lawmakers, before the election, said that If neither proposition passed, that they would ask voters in 2019 to bond about $2 billion for transportation projects.

Dallas Heltzell contributed to this report.

It would appear that if Colorado is to have a solution to its highway maintenance and capacity problems, it will be up to the Legislature — at least in the short term.

Voters came out against both Propositions 109 and 110 in tallies with 90 percent of counties reporting. As of this morning, with 1.8 million votes counted, both propositions were losing with more than 61 percent opposed to Prop. 109 and 59 percent opposed to 110. 

David May, president and CEO of the Fort Collins Area Chamber of Commerce, has been spearheading efforts in Northern Colorado to fix North I-25. He said his take away from the vote “may be that voters want a solution, not competing solutions. These measures could have provided needed funding for transportation. Now it’s back to the drawing board to find the money for important projects like widening of North I-25.”

“The state population will continue to grow as will traffic congestion, so the issue won’t go away. We will look to Gov. Polis and the Legislature for leadership, and we stand ready to help,” May said. “It appears that there were too many asking for money and even people who might have been inclined to support transportation were just asked for too much. Early on in a conversation with the 110 proponents we talked about the size of the proposal and reminded them that since the passage of TABOR, very little has passed statewide,” May said.

John Tayer, president and CEO of the Boulder Chamber…