Road Builders Withdraw Ballot Measures That Would Have Snubbed Transit

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Photo: Jared Tarbell/Flickr

On Wednesday the Colorado Contractors Association retreated from its bid to subsidize driving even further by asking Coloradans to pay up to $700 million more in sales tax reserved mostly for road and highway projects.

In March, the CCA floated 10 ballot measures that focused almost solely on roads. In a statement, the lobbying group said a voter-approved tax would have addressed “congestion and safety,” yet all 10 versions snubbed transit, biking, and walking.

The CCA said it didn’t want to risk putting the measure to a vote on the crowded November ballot. Turnout will be especially high this year thanks to the presidential election. The CCA aims to return with a ballot measure in 2018, when fewer people will head to the polls.

The statement omitted the heavy opposition from the Metro Mayors Caucus, an influential coalition of 41 Denver-area mayors. “There’s just too many holes in this for us to get behind it as a group… It’s just not there,” Westminster Mayor Herb Atchison said at last month’s Metro Mayors Caucus meeting. “We need transit. We need a lot of transit in the metro area.”

None of the versions of the tax devoted more than 12 percent of the possible $700 million in new revenue to to transit projects. Most set aside only 6 percent, the minimum contribution required by law. None would have guaranteed anything for walking or biking. Finally, some versions would have barred using the revenue on toll roads, while simultaneously mandating “congestion relief” — code for more lanes and wider roads that induce traffic. The packages were all, essentially, mechanisms to more heavily subsidize driving.

Don’t expect anything to change when CCA makes another bid in two years. “Through continued voter research, stakeholder engagement and statewide outreach, we plan to develop a measure for 2018 that best addresses the safety and congestion on our state’s road, highways and bridges, while also assisting Colorado’s diverse regions and local communities with their transportation needs,” Milo said in a statement.

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