Colorado official: roads, bridges aging
The Associated Press
Aspen, CO Colorado
DENVER ” It may not be visible from the car, but Colorado roads and bridges are aging and need attention, state transportation director Russell George warned Wednesday.
State officials are asking the public what to do about it after lawmakers tried and failed to come up with their own plan this year.
“First of all, do you know and understand what you have in transportation, are you satisfied with it?” George said Wednesday at a transportation summit. “Are you thinking forward about how you want to maintain it, what do you want to add to it, and if the answer is at least the same or more, are you willing to pay more for it?”
George said upgrading roads will require an increase in fees, taxes or tolls. It may also require partnerships between state government and companies or communities that want highway construction, and measures that could require voter approval.
George said the discussion must also involve state lawmakers, even though the Legislature failed to come up with a plan.
One plan that was killed would have charged drivers an extra $25 to register their cars and trucks and an extra $6 a day to rent a car. Supporters said it would have raised up to $300 million a year.
Earlier this year, Gov. Bill Ritter floated the idea of a $100-per-vehicle charge to help raise the estimated $500 million a year his transportation commission said was needed to repair and maintain existing roads.
He pulled back, saying he didn’t think there was much interest in a fee hike this year because of the weakening economy.
After that, Senate Minority Leader Andy McElhany, R-Colorado Springs, pulled his proposal to allow a $5 toll on Interstate 70 after failing to get enough support.
George said 122 bridges across the state are listed as structurally deficient, which means they don’t meet current standards for the volume of traffic, width of the bridge or construction. He said it could be a safety issue.
“We can’t guarantee there won’t be a calamity. We pray it does not,” he said.
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