FASTER Recovery In Colorado

Governor Bill Ritter of Colorado today has certified a second round of transportation projects to be funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, giving the OK to $194 million for 30 projects mostly in the Denver metro area.

He certified the first round of transportation funds on Tuesday, signing off on $145 million worth of projects in Colorado that will create jobs, improve safety and relieve congestion.

“We are moving forward as quickly as possible to create jobs, strengthen our economy and rebuild Colorado’s infrastructure,” Gov. Ritter said. “These projects will improve our transportation system, improve safety and help get our economy back on track.”

Projects include $33 million for repaving C-470 in Douglas County, $18 million for redeveloping Union Station into a regional transportation hub, and $22 million for replacing the Interstate 25/Alameda Avenue bridge over Santa Fe Drive in Denver.

See the complete list of the 48 projects that have now been certified. The newly certified projects are highlighted in yellow. The total price tag for all 48 projects is $339 million.

Colorado will receive more than $400 million for transportation projects and $103 million for transit projects. The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) expects to begin advertising projects for contractor bidding next week.

Gov. Ritter has established an accountability board and a website,, to oversee recovery investments in Colorado. “This is the public’s money and people have a right to monitor where it’s going and how it’s being spent,” Gov. Ritter said.

Gov. Ritter also signed into law earlier this week the FASTER transportation bill, legislation intended to save and create thousands of jobs, strengthen Colorado’s economy and allow the state to repair unsafe bridges and roadways.

“At its core, the FASTER bill is about two fundamental things: jobs and safety,” Gov. Ritter said at a signing ceremony attended by business leaders, local officials and transportation advocates.

The ceremony was held near a bridge at Interstate 25 and 84th Avenue that will be repaired thanks to the Funding Advancements for Surface Transportation and Economic Recovery bill (FASTER).

“With this bill, we’ll be able to begin work on the many unsafe bridges and roads all across this state — work that has been neglected for far too long,” Gov. Ritter said. “And at a time when the entire country is suffering from a recession, this legislation will let us save jobs, create jobs and help us get our economy moving again.”

The legislation, Senate Bill 09-108, was sponsored by Sen. Dan Gibbs and Rep. Joe Rice. It is expected to generate about $252 million annually for transportation projects, including improvements to more than 100 structurally deficient and functionally obsolete bridges.

FASTER is the product of two years worth of work, begun in 2007 when Gov. Ritter convened a Blue Ribbon Transportation Panel to recommend solutions to Colorado’s transportation funding crisis. After countless public meetings, FASTER won bipartisan support from a statewide coalition of business organizations, county and municipal officials, and conservation groups.

“I’m so glad we got FASTER through the process,” Sen. Gibbs said. “For every person out there in Colorado who has lost a job, they know we cannot wait another day to get back to work, and that’s what we have finally done. FASTER will get Colorado started. Thousands of Coloradans will be put to work and everyone in the state will see improvements in their roads and bridges.”

“FASTER is an important part of the solution to a huge problem,” Rep. Rice said. “FASTER will protect and create thousands of jobs for Coloradans, and it will allow us to address some significant safety concerns, as we repair and rebuild hundreds of crumbling bridges and many miles of our rutted roads.”

“Today is the day that Colorado’s economy gets some gas,” said Joe Blake, president of the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce. “Today is the day we begin creating jobs. Today is the day we begin to address the safety of our bridges and roadways. Today is the day we begin to establish a reliable, predictable source of funding, and that is real progress.”

The Colorado Department of Transportation says the state has 115 bridges that are 75 years old, highway sections that are 75 to 100 years old and interstate sections that are up to 50 years old.

There are 125 structurally deficient bridges in poor condition. Forty percent of Colorado’s roads are in poor condition and one in five needs to be completely reconstructed.

“FASTER will create a framework that will allow us to build for the future,” Gov. Ritter said. “Today marks the first step toward a responsible, 21st century funding formula for a modern 21st century transportation system.”

• Metro North Chamber of Commerce
• Colorado Counties Inc. (CCI)
• Colorado Municipal League (CML)
• Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce (DMCC)
• Colorado Contractors Association (CCA)
• Progressive 15
• Glenwood Springs Chamber of Commerce
• Hispanic Contractors Association
• Metro Mayors Caucus
• Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT)
• Denver Regional Council of Governments (DRCOG)
• Move Colorado
• I-70 Coalition
• Economic Development Council of Colorado (EDCC)
• Pueblo Area Chamber of Commerce
• Colorado Asphalt Pavement Association (CAPA)
• Colorado Conservation Voters
• Ports-to-Plains
• Colorado Competitive Council (C3)
• Action 22
• Colorado Fiscal Policy Institute
• Colorado Center on Law & Policy
• City of Brighton
• City of Westminster
• Rocky Mountain Minority Contractors Association
• Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments (PPACG)
• Transit Alliance
• Colorado Retail Council
• 36 Commuting Solutions
• Colorado Concern
• Colorado Association of Transit Agencies (CASTA)
• City of Arvada
• City of Thornton
• Regional Transportation Authority (RTD)
• Colorado Environmental Coalition
• Environment Colorado
• Colorado Center on Law & Policy
• City of Winter Park
• Broomfield Economic Development Corp.

FASTER Facts:< /strong>

Colorado’s Quiet Crisis:
• Colorado has 125 structurally-deficient bridges rated in poor condition and many more bridges designated as functionally-obsolete. FASTER will begin the process of funding the most urgent maintenance, repairs and reconstruction.
• Colorado’s population grew by approximately 660,000 people since 2000, and is projected to grow by an additional 1 million people in the next decade. Colorado’s existing transportation system can no longer efficiently move existing — much less projected — traffic volumes, people, goods and services throughout the state.
• Like states all across the country, Colorado’s unemployment rate is rising. FASTER is projected to save and create thousands of jobs throughout Colorado.
• Colorado’s road and bridge system is in its current state of disrepair because revenues are not keeping pace with the rising costs of maintenance, repair and construction. Colorado’s 22-cent-per-gallon fuel tax, which pays for the majority of roadway maintenance, has not been increased since 1992.

What FASTER Will Accomplish:
• FASTER is projected to generate approximately $252 million annually for transportation improvements. The impact to the average driver will be about $2.60 a month in the first year and $3.50 a month when fully implemented in 2012.
• FASTER establishes a Statewide Bridge Enterprise that begins the process of funding maintenance and repair of Colorado’s most urgent structurally-deficient and functionally-obsolete bridges.
• Phased in over three years, the bridge fund will build toward a $100 million annual investment in bridge improvements.

State, Local and Private Collaboration:
• FASTER establishes a High-Performance Transportation Enterprise to encourage innovative financing strategies, including certificates of participation, public-private partnerships, operating concession agreements, user-fee financing and design/build contracting.
• At full implementation, FASTER annually allocates $150 million to state and local road-safety projects based on the existing distribution formula of 60 percent to the state, 22 percent to counties and 18 percent to municipalities.
• FASTER gives veto authority over proposed public highway user-fees by requiring 100 percent approval of federal, state and impacted local governments before establishing a highway user-fee or congestion-based tolling.
• $5 million of the funds will be allocated to the State Transit and Rail Fund proposed in SB09-94 (Williams/Levy) for grants to local governments for local transit projects.
• Allows Regional Transportation District to go to the ballot without legislative approval.
Efficiency and Accountability:
• FASTER brings private sector professional contractors, engineers and others with relevant expertise together with CDOT to form an Efficiency and Accountability Committee to identify financial and operational efficiencies within the Department.
• FASTER requires CDOT’s executive director to report annually to the legislature on Committee activities and implementation recommendations.

FASTER’s Primary Funding Components:

Daily Car Rental Fee
• Requires rental car companies to pay a $2 daily car rental fee.

Weight-Based Vehicle Registration Fee Increase and Exemptions
• Because vehicle weight disproportionately affects road and bridge deterioration, FASTER establishes the following fee schedule according to vehicle weight. The new fees will be imposed on registrations starting July 1, 2009, and will average $41 for new registrations when fully phased in over three years.

Fee Schedule
The fee schedule will be based on 5 vehicle weight classes:
  • Less than 2,000 pounds
  • 2,000 – 5,000 pounds
  • 5,000 -10,000 pounds
  • 10,000 – 16,000 pounds
  • Greater than 16,000 pounds
A Bridge Safety Fee (phased in over three years) and Road Safety Fee based on these weights will be combined for the per vehicle fee.
NOTES: More than 80 percent of all vehicles registered in Colorado weigh less than 5,000 pounds. Agricultural/farm vehicles pay half the proposed fee increase. Rental car companies are exempt from the vehicle registration fee increase.

Greg Sitek

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