Transportation

Wednesday was a long day at the State Capitol. Eighty people signed up to testify on a massive transportation funding bill that if passed, would ultimately end up before voters in the fall.

During a more than seven-hour hearing before the House Transportation and Energy Committee people expressed lots of thoughts on how to improve Colorado’s roads -- and how to pay for them. Lawmakers also offered several dozen changes to House Bill 1242 but, in the end, the measure passed along party lines.

There are plenty of things that lead to distracted driving along Colorado’s roadways: eating, putting on makeup or changing the station on your radio. Texting and driving is one distraction state lawmakers want to crack down on. 

Lawmakers are midway through this year’s legislative session and the big issue at the halfway mark is what to do about funding transportation. Democratic and Republican leaders are backing the idea of asking voters this fall if they support a tax increase to address those needs. The issue is poised to dominate the second half of the session.

“If there is going to be a long-term solution to transportation infrastructure it’s going to almost certainly require something that the voters are going to weigh in on,” said Senate President Kevin Grantham, a Republican. He made that comment late last year, prior to the January start of the session, and has kept the promise, backing House Bill 1142, which would add millions of dollars for transportation needs.

91.5 KRCC

Legislative leaders have coalesced around a bill that, if approved, would ask Colorado voters to approve a sales tax increase to fund road, bridge and transit projects. The bipartisan transportation bill is dividing the GOP, with opponents saying Colorado hasn't done enough to tighten its budget and find efficiencies.

COURTESY OF SENATE PRESIDENT KEVIN GRANTHAM

A top Republican joined with Democratic leaders at the Colorado legislature Wednesday evening in an effort to find solutions to ongoing transportation woes.

To do that, lawmakers are proposing a bipartisan bill, HB1142, that would send the question to voters, asking for a 0.62-cent sales tax increase. That money would go towards priority infrastructure projects, as well as to provide funding to local governments for transit, roads, trails, and potholes.

A proposal to study whether passenger rail is viable along the Front Range has cleared the State Senate. It now heads to the House.

91.5 KRCC

Colorado is roughly a third of the way through the four-month long legislative session. John Frank, a reporter for The Denver Post, and Peter Marcus with ColoradoPolitics.com sat down with statehouse reporter Bente Birkeland to take stock of the big issues this session.

John Suthers State of the City 2016 / Colorado Springs

UPDATE: 2/16/17. The Senate Finance committee passed SB-153 on a 4-1 vote. The bill now heads to the full Senate.

Original post 2/14/17:

A proposal to study whether it's viable to create passenger rail from southern Colorado to Fort Collins has cleared its first hurdle at the state legislature.

Colorado officials have highlighted seven shovel-ready road and water projects should the Trump administration secure roughly $1 trillion in infrastructure funding. The National Governor’s Association sent that list, along with projects from 48 other states and territories, to the Trump administration on Feb. 8.

Colorado’s list includes adding two urgent projects -- an express lane heading west into the mountains on I-70 and adding capacity lanes along the northern and southern parts of I-25. It also includes water projects and one to expand rural broadband.

John Suthers State of the City 2016 / Colorado Springs

Among balancing the budget and finding money for transportation projects, lawmakers will decide if creating a passenger rail line along Colorado's Front Range—from southern Colorado to Fort Collins—is worth a look.   

Steve Wilson / Flickr - Creative Commons

This post has been updated, first on Sat 1/28/17 to expand the story.  Last updated Thursday 2/2/17 to reflect that the bill has been introduced at the statehouse.
 

The state's Southwest Chief Commission, which has been working since 2014 to find ways to preserve and expand a long-distance Amtrak route that runs through southern Colorado, is setting its sights on passenger rail along the Interstate 25 corridor and Colorado's Front Range. 

Holly Pretsky / 91.5 KRCC

Colorado Springs City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to pass an ordinance that makes it illegal to stand on certain city medians. 

Holly Pretsky / 91.5 KRCC

Standing on certain medians in Colorado Springs streets could soon be illegal if a proposed ordinance passes at City Council.

KIRK SIEGLER / KUNC

The first few days of Colorado's 2017 legislative session provided glimpses into the next few months as legislative leaders and the governor outlined their plans and priorities.

Bente Birkeland / Capitol Coverage

Opening day at Colorado's Capitol may be largely procedural, but legislative leaders take the opportunity to set the tone for the year. Thirty-two of the state's 100 lawmakers are newly elected, but the makeup of the chambers is largely the same as it was last year. Republicans still control the Senate and Democrats have a majority in the House.

Quinn Dombrowski / Flickr - Creative Commons

The governors of Colorado, Utah, and Nevada have announced intentions to create an electric vehicle charging network on interstate highways throughout those three states.

John Suthers State of the City 2016 / Colorado Springs

Local governments have formally designated widening parts of Interstate 25 as a top priority. The area of I-25 between Monument and Castle Rock that narrows to four total lanes is known to local government leaders as the "gap." 

Kerry Lannert / FLICKR - Creative Commons

An inspection of the more than 40,000 roadway guardrails throughout the state is now complete. The investigation was prompted by safety concerns.

Bente Birkeland / Capitol Coverage

With increasing populations and out-of-state travelers, there are more drivers on Colorado's roads than ever before. Shailen Bhatt, executive director of the Colorado Department of Transportation, shared some important takeaways on the new reality for Colorado motorists unless more money is found to fix roads and bridges, and build new road projects.

Holly Pretsky / KRCC

El Paso County Commissioner Sallie Clark called the state of the region strong and poised for continued growth and prosperity. The remarks came during an address in front of business and civic leaders.

Coloradosprings.gov

Motorists and cyclists can expect to see new, buffered bike lanes on Research Parkway in northern Colorado Springs this week, and a community bike-ride on Saturday marks the official launch.

Bustang: One Year Later

Jul 13, 2016
CDOT

Bustang has one year on the job.

The Colorado Department of Transportation says the bus service has exceeded ridership and revenue projections set out one year ago. 

Colorado Department of Transportation

The Colorado Department of Transportation, or CDOT, recently highlighted upcoming and ongoing road construction projects for southern Colorado. 

Interstate 70 through Glenwood Canyon is fully open nearly two months after rockfall caused major damage.  

In mid-February, I-70 closed for nearly a week. Then it reopened to head-to-head traffic followed by single-lane openings in each direction.  

Law enforcement is stepping up efforts this weekend as part of a statewide crackdown on distracted driving.

A new initiative to streamline public transit information across the nation has launched, and the Colorado Department of Transportation is planning to participate.  The initiative is called the National Transit Map, and its goal is to compile public transportation data, including localized bus and train routes and schedules, into a single repository.

The National Transportation Safety Board says an agricultural feed truck hit a train track near Dodge City, Kan., causing the rails to shift and an Amtrak train to derail shortly after midnight on Monday.

More than 30 people were sent to the hospital. The train, heading from Chicago to Los Angeles, was carrying 131 passengers and a crew of 14, Amtrak says.

As The Two-Way previously reported:

After Amtrak's Southwest Chief train derailed just west of Dodge City, Kan., shortly after midnight Monday, in an incident that sent some 32 people to hospitals, investigators are focusing on a possible problem with the track. The train was carrying 131 passengers and a crew of 14, Amtrak says.

Earl Weener of the National Transportation Safety Board says there is an indication there was some misalignment in the rails.

Maggie Spencer / KRCC

An informational meeting on the possibility of bringing passenger rail back to Pueblo is taking place tomorrow.

Southwest Chief efforts have received two federal grants in as many years totaling more than $48 million, about half of the funds needed to repair the current route.

Pueblo County Commissioner Sal Pace also heads the state's Southwest Chief Commission, which is tasked with coordinating efforts to preserve the line and ultimately bring it back to the steel city.

"We feel right now that the existential threat has passed us mostly," says Pace, "and we can now start focusing on the final piece, which is connecting Pueblo to the Southwest Chief route."

Pace says the community meeting will help citizens get involved with bringing the Chief to Pueblo, and layout what they still need to do to repair the line. That includes seeking state and federal funding, and applying for a third federal grant in April.

The meeting is set to take place Thursday, March 3rd at the Pueblo City-County Health Department at 5:30 PM. 

Updated 2/21/16

The closed portion of I-70 in Glenwood Canyon reopened Sunday evening, according to the Colorado Department of Transportation. 

However, CDOT spokeswoman Amy Ford said intermittent road closures are planned over the next several days. 

"We think we are going to be in this combination of the pilot car configuration open from 4 p.m. to 9 a.m then closing down from 9 a.m. til 4 p.m.," said Ford. 

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