Colorado forward-thinking regarding transportation, transportation policy

Denver RTD light rail train
Denver RTD light rail train

“A new state law that quietly moved through this year’s legislature gives cities and counties unprecedented freedom to spend tax dollars on transportation projects other than roads and bridges,” Monte Whaley wrote in the Denver Post.

“This means communities for the first time can use their share of the $250 million pot of money made up of state fuel sales taxes and license plate fees — known as the Highway Users Tax Fund, or HUTF — on bike and pedestrian lanes and bridges, bus purchases, rail-station construction and other transit-friendly projects.”

What a concept!! Colorado has it right, if I do say so myself.

To me, this is unprecedented. But, is this a formula for success, though? And, if so, will such a move resonate with other states and to the point that it prompts them to follow the transportation policy approach adopted by Colorado? Obviously, many questions.

I realize I am getting ahead of myself. For now, anyway, why it took until now for this action to come to be is beyond me.

Even before the new Colorado law in question went into effect, that, of course, being on April 26, 2013, it appeared the state was not so rooted in convention that it would not consider such newfangled approaches in solving transportation issues like Tubular Rail, for example.

On August 27, 2012 Monte Whaley, writing in the Denver Post once more, this time in “High-flying ideas for I-70 mountain corridor in Colorado include ‘tube rail,’” wrote, “A project that calls for a 120-mile, high-speed transit system to be built on Interstate 70 between Jefferson County and the Eagle County Airport is certain to attract top thinkers — and the biggest dreamers — both foreign and domestic.

“That includes Texas businessman Robert Pulliam, who doesn’t believe high-speed rail will solve the traffic woes along the corridor.” …and who “thinks a train shooting through a series of elevated hoops that’s supported by a suspension system that keeps the rail cars on track will do the trick.”

In my way of thinking it is good there are “thinkers” and “dreamers” (I prefer to call the latter “visionaries”) for, if not, the status quo would surely rule the day.

Back on point, Whaley points out that congestion through the mountainous areas along the I-70 corridor in question has, for decades, riled communities that dot the corridor and, as well, the state department of transportation, CDOT.

“That has prompted CDOT and others to search for answers, conventional and otherwise, to help relieve the traffic clotting,” Whaley notes.

How this all develops and unfolds over time is definitely something to keep close tabs on. What solution in this corridor will ultimately prevail is at this point still a mystery.

But, this much is for certain: If a fixed-guideway transit system capable of moving commuters at a relatively rapid clip is not “in place by 2025,” then CDOT will fall back on implementing the old standby technique of “widening the highway or making other roadway improvements,” the Denver Post columnist reported.

– Alan Kandel