Colorado Senate endorses plan to continue borrowing to pay for roads

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 5/9/2016

A renewed effort at the Colorado statehouse would move the state one step closer to extending a bond sale for transportation work that is set to be paid off next year. Voters would get the final say.

First sold in 1999, the bonds have been used to fund the “T-Rex” Interstate 25 improvement project in Denver and to pay for more than two dozen other major projects.

The Senate voted 19-16 to advance a $3.5 billion highway funding bill that would continue to rely on the bonds to get needed road and bridge work done over the next 20 years.

The Republican-led bill includes what is described by sponsors as “a specific, high-priority list of road upgrades” that would benefit from the bond extension.

Sen. Randy Baumgardner, R-Hot Sulphur Springs, says that continuing to use bonds would allow statewide road projects to get done without resorting to tax or fee increases.

Dubbed the “Fix Colorado Roads Act,” SB210 now moves to the House for further consideration.

The bill’s House sponsor, Rep. Brian DelGrosso, R-Loveland, said the bond effort is a proven approach to getting projects done.

“You can’t drive anywhere in Colorado without noticing the poor conditions of our roads. And if we don’t invest in transportation in this state, we can expect to see the condition of our roads continue to get worse,” DelGrosso said in prepared remarks.

He added that the bill would allow the state to move forward with specific transportation projects in every region of the state.

Gov. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat, has said he would consider the roads measure as part of a package deal to use savings from the state’s hospital provider fee to pay off the bonds. The governor opposed a similar transportation bond bill one year ago over repayment concerns.

If the bill makes it through the statehouse and gets the governor’s signature, it will be placed on either the state’s November 2016, 2017 or 2018 ballot.

To view other legislative activities of interest for Colorado, click here.

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