Our view: Vote ‘yes’ on Prop. 110, ‘no’ on Prop. 109 | SteamboatToday.com

Our view: Vote ‘yes’ on Prop. 110, ‘no’ on Prop. 109

With the gap between the list of state transportation projects and available funding widening to almost $10 billion, it's no surprise that two state transportation initiatives have landed on the November ballot. Propositions 109 and 110 both propose to fix the Colorado's transportation problems, but their approaches are very different.

Colorado finds itself in a transportation funding predicament due to its reliance on a gas tax to pay for the state's highway infrastructure — a tax that hasn't been increased for almost three decades. As a result of shrinking revenue, the state is facing a backlog of $9 billion in transportation projects.

And if you're wondering how that affects you, it should be noted that Colorado currently ranks 33rd in the nation when it comes to quality of roads, and it is estimated that time lost in traffic congestion and poor road conditions can cost individual Western Slope drivers approximately $1,200 a year.

At a glance

At issue: Colorado voters will be deciding the future of two transportation initiatives this fall: Proposition 110 and Proposition 109.

Our View: Proposition 110 will provide the funding necessary to improve aging infrastructure, make roads safer and reduce congestion while Proposition 109 is an ill-conceived stop-gap measure with no benefits for rural Colorado.

Editorial Board
• Logan Molen, publisher
• Lisa Schlichtman, editor
• Mike Burns, community representative
• Melissa Hampton, community representative

Contact the Editorial Board at 970-871-4221 or lschlichtman@
SteamboatPilot.com
.

To solve these issues, Proposition 110 proposes to fund transportation through a 0.62 percent increase in the state's sales tax, providing a robust strategy to tackle the state's transportation infrastructure needs across Colorado, not just the Front Range. The sales tax would cost people 6 cents on every $10 purchase with the state's 40 million yearly visitors contributing their fair share to the funding bucket.

Proposition 110, which has received strong bipartisan support, clearly defines how funds will be allocated with 45 percent of funding earmarked for state highways, 20 percent to city transportation needs, 20 percent to county transportation needs and 15 percent to transit/bicycle and pedestrian projects.

Under Proposition 110, the city of Steamboat Springs would receive an estimated $14.2 million over the next two decades of the new sales tax, and Routt County would receive $62.6 million. Oak Creek and Hayden would benefit to the tune of $958,346 and $2 million respectively.

In our area of the state, it's important that we have well-maintained highways to transport residents back and forth between our communities as rising housing costs require many Steamboat workers to live outside of the city in Oak Creek, Hayden and Craig. Safety issues, such as rock slides, wildlife and adequate shoulders for our area's "Share the Road" mindset, also need to be addressed, and Proposition 110 promises to provide funding to stay on top of these local transportation issues.

In contrast, Proposition 109 proposes to generate funding through the sale of bonds with no clear plan on where the money to pay back the debt would come from. If the measure passes, the bonds would net only $2 billion, which would only address a quarter of the state's transportation needs, and money to pay off the transportation bonds would have to come from the state's general fund, which could result in less money for education or a raiding of local energy impact funds.

In addition, Proposition 109 earmarks no money for projects in Routt County, and under the plan, 88 percent of the state highways are left without funding. The initiative also does not allocate any funding for alternative forms of transportation, which we believe must be part of any long-term transportation plan for the state as we work to get more cars off our roads during a time when our population is booming.

To us, the roadmap for the future of Colorado's transportation system is clear. We encourage voters to support Proposition 110 and reject Proposition 109.

We need a proactive state transportation solution that addresses long-term needs across Colorado — one that focuses on issues of congestion, safety, redundancy and multimodal forms of transportation. We think 110 provides those solutions while 109 muddies the waters, is a narrow, reactive approach to fixing Colorado's transportation needs and provides almost nothing for rural communities like Steamboat Springs and Routt County.