To People Who Walk, Bike and Ride Transit: CDOT Is Listening

Shoshana Lew, executive director of CDOT, introduces a statewide listening tour to determine funding priorities for state transportation projects. Photo: Andy Bosselman
Shoshana Lew, executive director of CDOT, introduces a statewide listening tour to determine funding priorities for state transportation projects. Photo: Andy Bosselman

Transportation officials launched a statewide listening tour that will give Coloradans the chance to sound off on how the state should spend limited transportation dollars. But even in the heavily car-dependent Centennial State, officials at the Colorado Department of Transportation say they want to hear from people interested in making the state a better place for walking, biking and transit.

“Part of the reason we’re doing this is to have an active conversation with people about the challenges they have and how you can solve them with different types of transportation,” said CDOT Executive Director Shoshana Lew in an interview after a press event Friday that kicked off the “Your Transportation Plan” tour.

When asked how the listening tour would deal with inevitable public support for widening freeways — despite the phenomenon of induced demand where newly expanded roads soon result in worse traffic than before — Lew said that the outreach process will help Coloradans understand how public transportation could help solve congestion.

But given what we know about induced demand, why are multiple highway expansions happening now, like “I-25 South Gap” project from Monument to Castle Rock?

Lew said that the region needs road capacity there, in part for safety reasons, but acknowledged that the corridor is nearing its limit.   

“85% of our population lives along I-25, and we know that we can’t widen our way out of that corridor,” she said. “We have to start a serious conversation about multimodal options along the Front Range.”

How about a train along the corridor?

Lew says that under Gov. Polis’ administration, CDOT has already accelerated the planning process at the Front Range Passenger Rail Commission, which the State Legislature formed in 2017.

And along the traffic-choked I-70 corridor to the mountains, why doesn’t CDOT add significantly more Bustang service?

“Thinking about how we use buses and transit to get people to where they need to go, particularly in high tourism season, is a very important conversation and one that we’re quite committed to looking at,” she said.

Lew says the listening tour will continue through the summer and the agency could start making decisions guided by public comments as soon as this winter. But first people need to offer feedback.

The tour will visit every county in the state, with a full list of events at the Your Transportation Plan website. People can also offer input via a quick survey or through telephone town hall meetings.

  • TakeFive

    But given what we know about induced demand, why are multiple highway expansions happening now, like “I-25 South Gap” project from Monument to Castle Rock?

    CDOT has a funding formula that allocates $’s to Five designated regions across the state which you can see here: https://www.codot.gov/images/global/new-region-boundary-map/view City of Denver needn’t worry itself over funding outside of Region 1. Other regions are perfectly capable of determining their own priorities and I’m sure that’s what CDOT wants to hear.

    This is being done in anticipation of a legislative plan to ask voters next year to let the state retain TABOR related funds which would be divided between education and transportation – instead of returning these funds to taxpayers. The plan’s author is Dem K.C. Becker, current Speaker of the House.

    • TakeFive

      And along the traffic-choked I-70 corridor to the mountains, why doesn’t CDOT add significantly more Bustang service?

      Because CDOT is having trouble finding enough drivers to reliably deliver on the current schedule.

      CDOT should be highly commended for creating the Bustang service.
      Bus service between Colo Springs and Denver had previously been tried and failed from lack of ridership. Greyhound buses already service the I-70 and I-25 corridor. But CDOT made a BIG investment from their multi-modal funds in Bustang; their buses are very nice and include Wi Fi and UBS plug-ins. The service – this time – has proven to be very popular and that’s a credit to CDOT. You can check out Bustang here: https://ridebustang.com/

    • mckillio

      I have no problem with highways up to three lanes, anything more than that is insane to me but this stretch of highway is terrible and needed to be redone regardless of an expansion. It’s straight up dangerous but part of that is due to the high speed limit.

      • TakeFive

        Interestingly, the last of the planned freeways for metro Phoenix, will open later this year as an 8-lane, 22-mile southern bypass to I-10. The L101 Pima Freeway in NE Phx-Scottsdale (that I use) is being expanded from 8 to 10 lanes. But Phoenix MSA population is 4.9 million compared to Denver’s 2.9 million. The City of Phoenix is now the 5th largest . Different kind of places, needless to say.

  • Ben Hintze

    Just like the culture around smoking in the 70’s, the culture of driving needs to be changed. Every person can’t drive in a single unit car. The solution is buses, that are plentiful and consistent. It’s a dead end for single occupancy cars.

    • LazyReader

      Or cheaper solution encourage carpooling so groups of people congregate to their destination with fewer vehicles on the road and skip the bus all together.

  • TM

    “And along the traffic-choked I-70 corridor to the mountains, why doesn’t CDOT add significantly more Bustang service?”

    Heck yes. Tolls to prevent congestion and lots of bus service. Expands the number of people we can move, brings in revenue in tolls and fares, keeps everyone moving fast whether driving or on buses, and requires no new construction.

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG