Concerns Arise Over Colorado Bond Plan

Mon May 30, 2005 - West Edition
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DENVER (AP) State transportation commissioners warned that a preliminary plan to spend $1.7 billion to improve highways won’t solve the state’s highway problems and there are no guarantees any of the projects will be finished.

The 11-member commission was asked by the legislature to come up with a list of potential highway projects to give voters an incentive to approve a plan asking them to give up $3.1 billion in tax surplus refunds over the next five years to allow the state to make up ground lost when the economy soured and state tax revenues declined.

Transportation Director Tom Norton told commissioners the money will help the state resume some of the strategic transportation projects that were approved by voters in 1999 and put on hold because of revenue shortfalls. He said there is no guarantee those projects or any new projects will be completed, but the state will try to make sure every region of the state gets money for some of their projects.

“There is nothing you can do short of inventing or printing money that will change that,” Norton told the commission.

The ballot proposal asked voters to approve an additional $100 million a year for construction and other projects, designating $1.7 billion over the next three years to finance roads, bridges and other strategic transportation projects.

Politicians in some transportation districts are already fuming, even though lawmakers stayed out of the fray and handed the job of picking projects to regional planning groups.

“This is not going to solve the problem, this is a start toward solving the problem. When some people say they’re not getting their fair share, I say, ’You’re right, none of us are,’” said Commission Chairman Steve Parker.