Denver GO Bond, state transportation legislation may offer substantial new funding
WalkDenver’s mission is to advocate for policies and practices that will make Denver the most walkable city in the nation. Toward this end, one of our primary goals is establishing a sustainable funding system for pedestrian infrastructure. We estimate that Denver has 2,000 miles of missing and substandard sidewalks. Given this sad state of affairs, our City will never make progress toward building out and maintaining a complete sidewalk network without substantially increasing investment in this basic infrastructure.
We are therefore encouraged that Mayor Hancock has declared 2017 “the year of mobility,” and recently told the Denver Post that he “plans to deliver in coming months by making ‘bold commitments’ for the next three to five years that could draw on borrowing, new revenue sources or other means to make it more attractive to move through the city without driving on its increasingly clogged roads.”
One potential source of funding for pedestrian infrastructure is the General Obligation (GO) Bond that Denver plans to put on the ballot for voter approval in November of 2017. The City has compiled a list of hundreds of projects that the GO Bond could pay for, which includes ideas from the public, City Council, city agencies and the existing six-year Capital Improvement Plan. The Mayor has appointed six committees – an executive committee and five subcommittees – to pare down the list to a final package that adds up to about $500 or $600 million.
WalkDenver’s Associate Director Jill Locantore was appointed to the Transportation and Mobility subcommittee that will be reviewing projects ranging from sidewalk construction citywide, to bike/ped bridges over major barriers such as the railroad tracks at 47th and York, to reconstruction of roadways such as 40th Avenue, Alameda Avenue, and Quebec Street, to streetscape improvements. The committee will be meeting at least weekly through early May. All Bond committee meetings are open to the public and include a public comment period. Visit the City’s website for more information.
Another potential source of funding is a state transportation funding measure that could also go before voters this coming November. The bipartisan bill would raise the sales tax by 0.62 cents on the dollar and raise an estimated $627 million a year over the next 20 years, including approximately $120 million per year dedicated for bicycling, walking and transit. State lawmakers will be debating and considering amendments to the bill over the next several weeks.
During this time, it’s important for elected officials to hear from their constituents about the importance of funding not just roads, but multi-modal transportation options as well. Our friends at Bicycle Colorado have made it easy to contact your representative and speak up in favor of keeping funding for walking, biking, and transit in this bill.