Colorado voters failure to support any of the ballot measures to increase state funding for state and local transportation projects will only delay needed improvements in our deteriorating transportation system. Currently, Colorado needs over $9 billion in transportation funding to fix and maintain our deteriorating roads.
Without adequate and sustained funding for Colorado transportation infrastructure, citizens will continue to see increased traffic congestion, badly maintained roads and increases in roadway accidents and fatalities.
Congress’ failure to provide adequate funding for infrastructure improvements only helps accelerate the further deterioration of our nation’s highway system.
Because of the lack of funding for our roads and bridges, local and state governments are looking to the private sector to fund alternative highway systems. Local and state governments have encouraged the development of public highway authorities. The Public Highway Authorities will seek private equity funding to construct new highways that will be funded by highway tolls to pay off those bonds and pay for operations and maintenance of the roads.
A very successful example of this concept is the E-470 Public Highway Authority. E-470 is a 47-mile semi-circular toll road belt around metro Denver’s eastern suburbs.
Its governing board includes representatives from Adams, Arapahoe and Douglas Counties and the municipalities of Aurora, Brighton, Commerce City, Parker and Thornton. Affiliate, non-voting members are the cities of Arvada, Greeley, Lone Tree, City and County of Broomfield and Weld County.
The E-470 Public Highway authority was built with equity bonds without using any taxpayer dollars. The only exception was a $10 per vehicle registration fee imposed on member counties to pay off an initial bond for construction. In 2019 that bond will be paid off and the fee will be ended.
Since E-470 opened in 1990, the tollway has continued to expand over the last several decades and has enjoyed significant increases in revenue and ridership.
The annual revenues exceed $220 million providing sufficient cash flow to expand roadway lanes and other technical and engineering improvements over the years.
This successful funding structure has encouraged the development of other toll road projects in the Denver metro area including North West Parkway, I-25 Central, U.S. 36, HPTE North, HPTE I-70 PPSL and HPTE C-470.
The toll road concept which allows government entities to seek private funding for new road construction is proving to be a unique method of addressing some of the problems of quickly and safely moving traffic across the metroplex without raising taxes and has met with considerable success.
While the establishment of Public Highway Authorities is not a comprehensive solution to this nation’s serious infrastructure and transportation deficiencies is it a start.
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