A change to Colorado’s transportation funding process was tucked in a free-transit bill. Rural leaders are livid | SkyHiNews.com

A change to Colorado’s transportation funding process was tucked in a free-transit bill. Rural leaders are livid

An amendment to a bill about free transit fares is stoking ire over how it would affect transportation funding for parts of Colorado with low population

Jason Blevins
The Colorado Sun
Traffic on Cottonwood Pass Road during the summer of 2021 near Gypsum.
Hugh Carey/The Colorado Sun

A short amendment to a bill adjusting a grant program that supports free bus and train rides is raising hackles among rural Colorado leaders who say it could change how transportation projects are funded. 

The amendment to House Bill 1101, approved by the Colorado Senate last month, would reverse a process that began in 1992 in Colorado, with rural and urban communities each at the table discussing how to spend transportation dollars. 

“This turns over a process that has worked well for 30 years with one fell swoop, with no public hearings, no public testimony in an overnight change,” said former state Rep. Diane Mitsch Bush, a six-year Routt County commissioner who served as chair of the Colorado Department of Transportation’s Northwest Transportation Planning Region. “This will hurt the economy of the Western Slope. It will disenfranchise rural areas across the state. This should not be an amendment. It’s a major overhaul to how we have done things in Colorado for decades.”

There are 15 Travel Planning Regions in Colorado that play a role in how funding for transportation projects is distributed.
Courtesy of CDOT

Transportation funding in the U.S. is a blurry stew of acronyms that makes it challenging to follow the flow of federal funding dollars. We’re going to try anyway. 

The federal system got an overhaul with the Intermodal Surface Transportation Act of 1991. That landmark legislation replaced a federal funding system focused on urban roads and removed population density as the primary consideration for federal grants. The federal legislation directed states to form regional transportation groups to help raise rural voices in funding discussions.

Read the full story at The Colorado Sun.

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