Peak & Prairie
June / July 1999
Is Owens Anti-Transit...Or Just Ill Informed?
by Don Thompson, Transportation Committee
Our new Governor has said that he does not support the Colorado Department of Transportation in funding $90 million of the transit corridor southeast from central Denver along I-25.
He is happy, however, to increase the projected cost by $500 million to as much as a billion dollars to add additional highway lanes to the proposal generated by the recently completed major investment study.
Highway proponents tend to despise studies, since they donít support their† preconceived notions that highway expansion is always the answer.
In his campaign, and since his election, Owens has said that transportation issues are one of his major concerns. Letís hope he will be willing to expand his transportation knowledge to go along with his concern for the issue.
One report of his negative attitude for funding transit along I-25 quoted him as saying that he was concerned since 58 percent of the voters said ďnoĒ to Guide the Ride. He did not explain (since the media would never think to ask) how he could then support highway expansion when 61 percent of the voters said no last fall to additional highway funding.
Guide the Ride required a new tax, while the highway funding bill was an existing tax and had the benefit of being linked to the popular education funding issue. Both of those facts should have reduced the number of no votes recorded.
Governor Owens has also not explained the cost effectiveness of building additional highway lanes when Colorado has one of the poorest records nationally for highway maintenance. A dollar spent to maintain a highway will delay the spending of $5 needed when the highway must be rebuilt. By building new roadways instead of repairing existing roadways, we are soon going to be faced with major rebuilding requirements all across the state.
Most motorists remember that Colorado sends more gasoline tax dollars to Washington than we get back in federal highway funding. This leads us to believe the automobile is subsidizing other transportation options. But in actuality, at least 40 percent of the cost of streets and highways (and other automobile required costs) are paid for by sales taxes and property taxes.†
The environmental community was able to educate the public to understand that water could be provided in ways other than building huge storage projects. We need now to educate them to realize that highway expansion does not solve congestion.
WHAT YOU CAN DO:
†Let the Governor know your opinion:
E-mail Governor Owens at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 303-866-2471
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