Colorado car owners could have to pay $41 more a year
The Associated Press
Aspen, CO Colorado
DENVER ” A new plan to raise money to fix the state’s worst bridges and roads would cost vehicle owners at least $41 a year in new fees.
The proposal, unveiled by Gov. Bill Ritter and Democratic lawmakers on Wednesday, would raise about $250 million a year through two fees ” one for road repairs and another for bridges ” that would be tacked onto regular registration fees.
Both of the new fees would be based on weight. Previous reports have focused on just one of those fees, but the 71-page draft proposal spells out plans for two.
The owners of passenger cars and sport utility vehicles weighing up to 5,000 pounds ” about 80 percent of Colorado drivers ” would pay a $23 road fee plus an $18 bridge fee. The owners of larger SUVs and pickups up to 10,000 pounds would pay $28 for roads and $23 for bridges. Trucks and buses would pay a combined fee of $60 to $71 depending on their weight.
Owners of motorcycles and scooters would pay a combined $30 extra.
The money would be used to fix 125 of the state’s worst bridges and roadways over the next four years.
Ritter acknowledged the plan would have a “moderate” impact on families facing a recession but said Colorado needs to catch up on repairs to its transportation system both to protect people’s lives and attract businesses.
Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce President Joe Blake and Washington County Commissioner David Foy joined Ritter at the Capitol conference promoting the plan from Rep. Joe Rice, D-Littleton, and Sen. Dan Gibbs, D-Silverthorne. They believe it will boost the economy by providing work for 5,000 construction workers, and they stood in front of a line of construction workers wearing hard hats as they discussed the plan.
It hasn’t been formally introduced as a bill yet. Democrats have been negotiating with Republican leaders and hope to get GOP support for the measure.
No Republican lawmakers turned out for the event. House Minority Leader Mike May and Senate Minority Leader Josh Penry faulted the plan for not finding any money for roads and bridges within the existing state budget and for creating too much bureaucracy.
With the state facing nearly $800 million in budget cuts this year, Rice said he challenged opponents of the plan to explain where extra money could be found within the existing budget.
In addition to the fees, the proposal would allow tolling on the state’s existing highways if local communities support the idea. It would also set up a panel to consider charging drivers based on the number of miles they travel and possibly eliminate the state’s transportation funding source ” the 22-cent-per-gallon gasoline tax. The tax hasn’t kept pace with construction costs because cars can travel more on a gallon of gas than they used to.
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