Randy Baumgardner: Focused approach to transportation needs
As your state senator, I have been very busy this fall and early winter. The Colorado Assembly’s formal session begins every January and lasts into the first part of May but the work of the critical committees that make up the structure of your state government go on year around.
I was honored to be designated vice-chair of the Transportation Legislation Review Committee last year and then chairman this year. Early in December, I chaired this joint house and senate committee in Denver.
At that meeting the Colorado Department of Transportation presented its funding challenges. CDOT offered its solutions on how to proceed for the coming year. Our roads are a critical piece of Colorado’s infrastructure, and the discussions centered on highway repairs, paving and many other important topics.
For those who don’t know, the mission of the TLRC, which meets four or more times each year, is to propose and review transportation, traffic and motor vehicle legislation. The committee can review any part of CDOT operations and other highway and regional transportation authorities. It also has the ability to conduct post-operation reviews of projects completed by those entities to determine if the projects were done in the most cost-effective and efficient manner.
We held four meetings during 2015. At one of those meetings, committee members toured the southwest Colorado region. We received input from CDOT representatives, county commissioners, local elected officials and constituents about transportation needs in their areas. The committee also visited several infrastructure projects and transportation facilities throughout the southwest region.
Transportation infrastructure funding
We were presented at an interim meeting some disturbing information by CDOT that they expect a funding shortfall for the next 20 years and the negative impact such a shortfall would have on multi-year projects. Discussions were heard about other states that have entered into public-private partnerships for transportation projects.
Transportation infrastructure planning
We heard representatives of several CDOT entities including the Statewide Transportation Advisory Committee on the state and local infrastructure planning process. The committee recommended that STAC provide advice on budgets and transportation policy to both CDOT and our committee.
Colorado Counties, Inc. winter conference
I also participated on a Colorado Counties Inc. panel in Colorado Springs this month to look at ways to fund transportation for the state of Colorado.
Legislator of the Year Award
On Nov. 18 I was humbled and honored to be named Legislator of the Year by the Colorado Association of Conservation Districts. This association promotes land conversation, protects private rights and works to stop legislation that would impact these areas negatively.
As chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee, I am dedicated to ensuring that our transportation infrastructure is preserved, expanded where necessary and maintained in the safest condition for our citizens. I will continue to work efficiently with my committee team members to accomplish these goals, and I welcome your input.
Randy Baumgardner is a rancher and citizen state senator for Colorado Senate District 8, which represents Routt, Garfield, Grand, Jackson, Moffat, Rio Blanco and Summit counties in Northwest Colorado. He is the majority whip, chairman of the Senate Transportation committee, chairman of the Capitol Development Committee, chairman of the Transportation Legislation Review Committee, and member of the Agriculture, Natural Resources and Energy, Business Labor and Technology committees.
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