COLORADO SPRINGS – Colorado lawmakers passed bill that provides the biggest boost to transportation finance the state has had in decades.
Senate Bill 260 is estimated to raise an estimated $ 5.4 billion over the next decade.
The bill was passed along the party lines in lawmakers, with Republicans voting against and Democrats voting in favor. Governor Polis signed the law on Thursday June 17th.
At the signing ceremony held on I-70 off Floyd Hill, Governor Polis said the bill will create around 27,000 jobs over the life of the bill. He said this will be done through shovel-ready projects and other improvements. He also said it will also add to the economy by providing better access to Colorado’s mountainous areas. He also claimed the average Coloradan loses over $ 600 a year if stuck in traffic.
Sponsors of the bill said the package will help put one of Colorado’s key needs at the forefront of state priorities and continue to work towards a future of mostly electric vehicles and more and different modes of transport to cut CO2 emissions as the state does Population continues to grow rapidly.
To achieve this, new fees will be introduced from July 2022:
On the other hand, FASTER vehicle registration fees will be reduced over the next two years to help people recover from the pandemic. Fees will decrease by $ 11.10 in the next year and $ 5.50 in 2023, before reverting to their current rate in January 2024.
Voters have repeatedly turned down election questions that would have put money in the state coffers to repair roads in recent years – including in 2018 when a move to borrow more than $ 3 billion to fund highway projects was rejected , as well as one measure that would have increased state sales tax to fund transportation projects.
The fees will help fund several new state-owned companies created in the bill, including the Bridge and Tunnel Company, the Municipal Access Company, the Clean Fleet Company, the Clean Transit Company, and the Air Pollution Company. However, according to the fiscal note, these companies do not require voter approval, which is required under Proposition 117. This is because the fiscal memo assumes that the companies will not generate more than $ 100 million in revenue for the first 5 years. released again.
So what are some other changes we may see coming? We break them down for you here:
Effects on the car pool agency:
“I understand why they did it, but I have a feeling it will really hurt the carpool,” said Ryan Breakey, owner of Rideshare Co.
He’s ridden Uber and Lyft for five years and says the proposed fees will have a big impact on ridesharing.
“In June it’s going to be five years for me, so I’ve seen the ups and downs of driving for Uber and Lyft. I’m the type of person who is ready to ride the wave. For full-time riders when the gas is on” and other things like this, they’re more affected than those who do it part-time, “said Breakey.
With ridesharing charges of 30 cents per trip and 15 cents per trip for carpooling and electric vehicles, he worries about how this will affect drivers.
“Most customers won’t mind, but there are a lot of customers who use Uber and Lyft to get to points a and b,” said Breakey. “Some people think it’s cheaper to take Uber or Lyft than to own a car and make those payments.”
Breakey says the proposed fees, which include a 2 cents per gallon gas and diesel fee, could impact the number of drivers on the road.
“If fuel consumption continues to rise, it will only hurt the driver shortage rather than help it. Right now we are seeing how many drivers are back on the road and many new drivers are signing up. If the fuel goes up, soon these drivers, those who have continued to ride through the pandemic will say it’s not worth it, “said Breakey.
Looking to the future and environmental efforts:
One of the biggest issues the bill is about is electric vehicles and the urge to use them and provide the necessary infrastructure for them.
A study by Deloitte Insights predicts that electric vehicles will account for around a third of new vehicle sales over the next ten years.
The bill creates several new state-owned companies to advance electric vehicles and environmental efforts.
For example, the Community Access Enterprise, which is being formed under the Colorado Energy Office to support the introduction of electric vehicles, develop charging stations for electric vehicles, and so on. This company is funded through a retail community access fee.
The bill’s fiscal note states that the increased price of gasoline and diesel fuel purchases is aimed at “slightly reducing gasoline and fuel consumption,” resulting in an annual decrease in fuel tax revenue under the bill of US $ 10,000 -Dollars should lead.
40 percent of the registration fees for electric vehicles go to the Electric Vehicle Grant Fund.
The bill also creates a new branch in CDOT called the Environmental Justice and Equity Branch. The branch’s role is to work with disproportionately affected communities and identify issues that are preventing these communities from improving their health, quality of life, etc.
According to the bill, there is also another company created within CDOT, the Nonattainment Area Air Pollution Mitigation Enterprise. The job of this industry is to reduce traffic-related pollution. To this end, the company supports projects that help reduce traffic or air pollution. The bill also allows for an “air pollution control fee for retail deliveries” to be levied.
Improvement of our current infrastructure:
Of the newly formed companies, Bridge and Tunnel is expected to generate the largest revenue under this law, at over $ 50 million by 2024.
Income from gasoline and diesel fuel fees and retail fees will go to the Statewide Bridge and Tunnel Enterprise Fund.
According to one of the bill’s sponsors, MP Alec Garnett, $ 800 million will be used to repair rural roads.
“We shouldn’t be ranked 47th in the country when it comes to the safety of our highways,” said (D) State Rep. Alec Garnett, who is also a sponsor of the law.
He also said $ 2.5 billion will go to the Highway Users Tax Fund (HUTF), with local governments receiving a large portion of that dollar for the needs of their communities.
A significant amount is also made available for Main Street projects. At least $ 22 million from the State Highway Fund will go to CDOT’s major highway revitalization program. According to the state’s website, the purpose of the program is to help communities implement traffic-related projects that will improve safety and help provide long-term benefits to the main roads in different communities. Pueblo, Fountain, Manitou Springs, and Colorado Springs have historically received funding from this program.
One project that should grab immediate attention is Floyd Hill’s I-70. During Thursday’s signing ceremony, Governor Polis pointed out that it is often a traffic jam area on I-70. He said the last time the stretch of road received major investment was in the 1960s.
“A lot has changed and with the passage of this transportation law, a new lane for this entire seven-mile stretch in both directions,” said Governor Polis.
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