Don Hunt Throws Walking, Biking, and Transit Under the Single Occupancy Vehicle

Photo: David Sachs
Photo: David Sachs

Don Hunt, the former Colorado DOT director, wants Denver to spend more on cars.

Yesterday, at a meeting of the executive committee tasked with finalizing a project list for a November bond measure worth up to $900 million, Hunt said he was “dismayed” and “still smarting” from the lack of projects for cars and deferred road maintenance on the shortlist.

The citizen-led Transportation and Mobility Stakeholder Committee, which Hunt chairs, had whittled down the project list from 100 items to 32, totaling $500 million. Hunt moderated those meetings, remaining neutral most of the time. On Thursday, his job was to report on that process to the executive committee, which will then make its own recommendations to the Hancock administration and City Council about what to fund.

But Hunt did much more than that.

At one point, Hunt compared the group’s vision for an efficient network of transitways, bike routes, and pedestrian infrastructure to “Portlandia.” Though improvements to the city’s bus network account for more than $100 million of the sub-committee’s recommendations, Hunt did not mention transit once in his testimony.

“If the purpose of the [general obligation] bond is to move totally away from investments in personal automobiles and towards other types of mobility — walking, biking — it does that,” he told the executive committee via speaker phone.

Former CDOT executive director Don Hunt.
Former CDOT executive director Don Hunt.

Hunt framed his sub-committee as argumentative and uncompromising, much to the surprise of committee members in the room.

“I ran the committee to try and keep a group of very, very, very, opinionated people working together,” Hunt said. “It was very demanding to come up with a final recommendation… This was a committee that does not speak easily with one voice.”

But the committee vote on its highest-priority projects was unanimous, said committee member and Denver Director of Bicycle Colorado Piep van Heuven. Another vote, which allotted $50 million for deferred maintenance, was not exactly a nailbiter.

“I was puzzled by Don’s remarks because the vote on deferred maintenance was 15 to 3 in favor,” van Heuven said.

Of course there were debates before those decisions were reached, but that’s healthy when hundreds of millions of dollars are at stake. What Hunt seemed to be protesting, more than the process, was the result.

Hunt clearly wants more spending on roads. Aside from the $50 million for deferred maintenance, the list includes widening Peoria Street and major bridge projects with maintenance baked in. That’s not enough for Hunt, who cited “parts of the city where the roadway system is not built out.” (Never mind the sidewalk network, which has been unfinished since the city’s founding.)

“There was very little room to have that conversation because of the adamant opinions of a significant number of the committee members, who wanted to argue in all instances,” Hunt claimed. “And there was very little room to discuss deferred maintenance. You know, I’m still smarting a little bit.”

Hunt wasn’t off the mark though when he called the group’s decision “the most incredible change in view, of a city, that I’ve ever witnessed in a ten-year period.”

That’s a good thing. This group of volunteers, selected by the mayor’s office, carefully deliberated for more than two months and identified a list of investments that aims to move Denver forward with better transit, walking, and biking.

“I think [the transportation subcommittee] is definitely representative of some of the experts in the community associated with transportation,” said JJ Niemann, president of the Inter-Neighborhood Cooperation and a member of the executive committee. “So I think we definitely need to take into consideration… their recommendations. I don’t think it’s based in some sort of nonscientific analysis.”

Stewart Tucker Lundy, co-chair of the Transportation and Mobility Committee and an advocate for Denverites with disabilities, had the last word for the executive committee.

“I just want to say… that the committee that I was a part of was extraordinary,” Lundy said. “I invite you to come to our committee [meeting] and, I’m just gonna say, have your own eyes. Please.”

  • acerttr250

    It’s the same thinking that roots in people, fear of bike lanes.

    • PabloDali

      Time to start Taxing, Registering, Plating and Insuring Bicycles.

      No more free rides for bikers.

      • acerttr250

        You do understand that people already pay taxes for roads. Cars pay a surcharge because they damage the roads disproportionately.

        So, taking bikes more would be the effect of charging a car 1000 dollars per trip.

        • PabloDali

          “You do understand that people already pay taxes for roads.”

          Do tell.

          Roads are primarily funded by USE taxes, on Registrations, FUEL and other direct costs to the users.

          Electric vehicles pay higher Registration and Use taxes, because they don’t pay fuel taxes.

          If cyclists want tens of millions of $$ of infrastructure built and maintained specifically for them, then tax those cyclists directly for the majority of the costs.

          No more free rides for cyclists.

          • acerttr250

            This is entertaining.

            Look up any municipal road budget. The roads primarily in their jurisdiction are funded by the city or town. This is not a secret. If we didn’t have cars destroying roads, we would have plenty of money to fund them and keep them going.

            Bikes have no free ride. Wait, do we need to talk people who walk for sidewalks? Maybe a license plate for them?
            Your ignorance is widespread and contagious but easily innoculated.

          • PabloDali

            You sound like a typical biker who want’s everyone else to pay for his free ride.

          • Devin Quince

            You sound like a typical cager who want’s everyone else to pay for his free ride.

          • PabloDali

            Sober up before you post.

          • Devin Quince

            I guess the same goes for you?

          • TakeFive

            When you say “funded” are you speaking of capital/construction costs or maintenance costs? In any case the citizen/user/taxpayer votes to pay for what they want and need.

          • Devin Quince

            I own 4 vehicles and rarely use them, as do I am sure a lot of cyclists, so we are paying for the roads. How about you pay the real price for repairing the damage done to them by your overcompensating vehicles?

          • PabloDali

            “I own 4 vehicles and rarely use them, as do I am sure a lot of cyclists”

            Laughably false and unfounded assertion.

          • Devin Quince

            Wow, did not know that you knew where I lived.

          • acerttr250

            Trump voter? Let’s just get that out of the way.

          • PabloDali

            Scumbag Trump is a vile bigoted ignorant piece of crap.

          • acerttr250

            You two are two peas in a pod.

          • iBikeCommute

            “Roads are primarily funded by USE taxes, on Registrations, FUEL and other direct costs to the users.”

            Colorado is about to pass a bill that spends $1.8 billion on highways by mortgaging state properties. How is this a “use” tax? Everyone wants better roads but nobody wants to pay for them directly. When was the last time the gas tax was raised here?

          • Devin Quince

            Not recent enough, but wait for the crybaby drivers to start whining.

          • PabloDali

            The vast majority – 61 percent – of CDOT revenues comes from state and federal gas taxes.

          • iBikeCommute

            “The vast majority – 61 percent – of CDOT revenues comes from state and federal gas taxes.”

            How much of local road construction and maintenance is paid for by use taxes? Really the vast majority of DPW’s budget is covered by the general fund and this is where bike improvements come from as well.

          • PabloDali

            Gas taxes are a type of use tax. The more you drive, the more you pay.

            One of the problems is that with ever increasing fuel efficiencies in cars, the amount of fuel purchased per road mile continues to go down.

            Colorado is limited by the TABOR amendment from arbitrarily raising taxes without direct taxpayer approval.

            Vehicles in Colorado traveled 49 billion miles on state highways and roads in 2012. That number is expected to jump to nearly 70 billion by 2040/

            Direct taxes on the 50 – 70 billion miles traveled is the fairest way to make the USERS pay for the public infrastructure.

          • Devin Quince

            So raise the gas tax and pay for damage caused by the use.

          • PabloDali

            Bingo!

            And tax ALL vehicles that use the public roadways, whether they burn fossil fuels or not.

          • Devin Quince

            Sure at the level of damage done

          • red123

            And those funds are spent on state highways not on Denver streets

          • PabloDali

            Many Denver streets are State Highways.

          • red123

            About a quarter of federal highway system funding now comes from the general fund, and almost all local road funding is through property taxes. So please explain why you believe that all roads are paid for by USE taxes?

          • PabloDali

            The vast majority – 61 percent – of CDOT revenues comes from state and federal gas taxes.

  • acerttr250

    Look up any municipal road budget. The roads primarily in their jurisdiction are funded by the city or town. This is not a secret. If we didn’t have cars destroying roads, we would have plenty of money to fund them and keep them going.

    Bikes have no free ride. Wait, do we need to talk people who walk for sidewalks? Maybe a license plate for them?
    Your ignorance is widespread and contagious but easily innoculated.

  • Nanci Kerr

    Did Don Hunt earn the cover of Wrong Side of History Magazine?

  • ecycled

    Thanks to every one of those 15 who voted to make Mr. Hunt’s day just a uncomfortable and annoying, sort of the way I feel EVERY day I set out to ride or walk as a means to get around our city.

  • acerttr250

    If you are against bikes, you are for pollution, obesity and disease. And also, you are for continued wars.

    http://www.lbc.co.uk/radio/presenters/james-obrien/james-cycling-with-passionate-point/?utm_source=m.facebook.com&utm_medium=referral

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