Multimodal transportation in Denver could get a boost from statewide funding initiatives

by Jessica Vargas on May 24, 2018

What statewide transportation funding initiatives could mean for multimodal transportation in Denver

Transportation and mobility funding has become an increasingly important issue at the state level as many Colorado cities continue to grow. On May 8, the Colorado state legislature passed Senate Bill 1 that will allocate an additional $495 million for transportation from the state’s general budget for the 2018-19 fiscal year that starts on July 1. While most of this funding will be going to highway projects, SB 1 also creates a new multimodal transportation fund within the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT), allocating 15 percent of the new revenue to this fund. This money can be used for projects such as public transit improvements, bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure and programs, or transportation demand management programs. Eighty-five percent of the funds will be distributed as grants to local government or transit agencies, while 15 percent will go to state projects like the CDOT-operated Bustang.

As Denver figures out how to move more people in the same amount of street space, projects that improve or create multimodal transportation options will need to become a funding priority within the City. With Denver set to receive an extra $7.4 million for transportation through SB 1 – a figure that could be matched by CDOT through the multimodal fund – the City has the opportunity to fund multimodal projects that provide more mobility options and increase safety for people walking, biking, and accessing transit.

Another statewide transportation funding option that could provide local governments with much more transportation funding has also recently been proposed by a statewide coalition of business and community leaders. Last Friday, members of this coalition announced they would seek signatures to get a sales tax increase of 0.62 percent on the November ballot.

“This solution to transportation and mobility funding is imperative to the economic health of our state and the future of our residents,” said Tami Door, President and CEO of the Downtown Denver Partnership, “These funds will support projects and improvements that will strengthen mobility providing access to housing and jobs, increasing the quality of life for all Coloradans.” If successful, the selected ballot question would raise the state sales tax from 2.9 percent to 3.52 percent starting Jan. 1, 2019. The increase would last for 20 years.

For Denver, this could mean an estimated at $27.5 million dedicated to transportation starting in 2020 that could help fund much-needed improvements on Federal Boulevard, accelerate the build-out of the underfunded bicycle and pedestrian networks, help grow Denver’s transit ridership, and implement the City’s Vision Zero Action Plan to eliminate traffic fatalities and serious injuries on our streets. Investing in multimodal transportation would ensure Denver has people-friendly streets that make biking, walking, and accessing transit safe, easy, and convenient for people of all ages, incomes, and abilities.

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