The Colorado Transportation Commission (CDOT) passed a resolution to convene a task force of transportation planners, local government officials, transit organizations and other stakeholders to develop a strategic transit program.
The commission wants to identify transit investments for Colorado that have statewide or regional significance; those that will have a lasting impact on the state’s economy and quality of life.
In outlining the Strategic Transit Program, the task force will be charged with establishing criteria for funding eligibility for projects that may or may not include transit-related capital improvements, the replacement or purchase of new buses and even light rail.
The statute specifically prohibits using the funds for park and ride construction. It also will be recommending a process for project selection and prioritization.
The task force is expected to present its recommendations to the commission in six months.
“We appreciate the Transportation Commission taking this big step forward in helping to fund key transit projects statewide,” said Cal Marsella, regional transportation district general manager. “We look forward to partnering with CDOT and transit agencies from around the state to complete this required distribution of transit funds.”
In 2002, the state legislature approved a measure prescribing how the CDOT should spend the portion of motor vehicle-related sales and use tax revenue received from automobile parts and accessories.
The law differentiates that 90 percent of those funds be spent on highway improvements and 10 percent on transit or transit-related capital improvements.
Due to Colorado’s economic recession, this will be the first year since the law passed that CDOT will receive this funding.
CDOT is projected to receive $216 million in sales and use tax revenue this current fiscal year (FY06).
It estimates approximately $21 million will be set aside so that ready transit projects can move forward quickly in the next fiscal year, once the program and list of Strategic Transit Projects is adopted by the commission.
It is estimated that CDOT will spend approximately $100 million on transit over the next seven years.
“We are very pleased to be in the position of having funding to start addressing our multi-modal needs.” said Transportation Commission Chairman Greg McKnight of Arapahoe County. “We did not expect these funds to flow to CDOT for several years so at the time, it didn’t made sense to outline the state’s priority transit needs. The passage of Referendum C changed CDOT’s financial outlook and now we need to get this important program developed quickly.”
The 11-member Transportation Commission sets policy and approves budget for the CDOT.