Transportation infrastructure is an essential ingredient to the quality of life in our state. We require safe, accessible roads and bridges to drive our kids to school, commute to work, to move products and food to our stores, and to access the recreational amenities that make Colorado one of the best places to live, work and raise a family.
And yet our transportation infrastructure is literally crumbling around us. According to one recent study, 70% of the roads in Colorado are rated “poor or mediocre and over 500 bridges around the state are rated as structurally deficient.” This deteriorating state of our infrastructure is no longer an abstract concept but has become a real kitchen table issue for our residents in Centennial and around the state. According to a 2018 study conducted by TRIP, a national transportation research nonprofit, “the average Colorado motorist will lose $2,306 per year to car repairs and to time lost in traffic congestion.” That is real money impacting the quality of life for all Coloradoans.
As a member of the Centennial City Council, I have heard the frustrations of my fellow residents first hand and our council has begun taking steps to help alleviate the situation. Our city, along with Lone Tree and Greenwood Village, have begun collaborating on a pilot project along South Yosemite Street from Lincoln to Belleview avenues known as Project Mercury to gather data on prevailing traffic patterns to see where improvements can be made.
Together we are assessing the feasibility of an Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) made up of traffic vehicle sensors, signal controllers and a central management system that can track changing traffic patterns in real time and make modifications when needed. Although the project is still in its early stages, we are seeing very positive results that we believe will go a long way toward substantially reducing congestion in our communities.
While it is contingent upon every local government across the state to do their part to improve our road conditions, we must also be committed to a comprehensive statewide solution to solve our infrastructure challenges — not just here in metro Denver but throughout Colorado.
But in order resolve the gridlock that is clogging our city streets we must first eliminate it from our political discourse that is at the core of our difficulties.
The State of Colorado could learn from the common-sense approach of municipalities like Centennial and countless others that have invested in innovative solutions or identified new funding sources to help support transportation improvements at the local level.
Our state has not raised the gas tax since 1991 and we simply do not have the resources to maintain our current transportation system without a new dedicated source of revenue.
Moreover, Colorado’s population is expected to grow by a million people over the next 10 years — adding further congestion and wear and tear to our streets and highways. The time to act is now.
As the 2020 state legislative session begins in earnest, I am asking my counterparts at the Colorado General Assembly to help solve this problem once and for all. Reasonable solutions like indexing the fuel tax for inflation, road-use fees for electric vehicles, service fees on transportation network companies and delivery services, and registration fee increases are all viable options that could go a long way toward restoring much needed funding for our state’s infrastructure.
The only option that we cannot afford is to let another year go by where we do not make the difficult but necessary decisions that our constituents demand of us. Coloradans simply cannot afford to wait another year.
Kathy Turley represents District 1 on Centennial City Council.
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