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Longmont, Boulder Chambers Hosting Sessions on Transportation Funding Measures

August 11, 2018

Cars travel toward Boulder Friday afternoon on the Diagonal Highway. Managed traffic lanes, bus rapid transit, bicycle paths and other improvements to that road could be added under one measure that could be on ballots this fall.

Colorado transportation ballot issue presentations

What: The Longmont and Boulder chambers of commerce have scheduled separate Tuesday presentations about competing transportation-funding proposals expected to be on Colorado voters’ November ballots. They’re to be

Longmont Area Chamber of Commerce Public Policy Committee: 8:30-10 a.m. Tuesday at the Longmont Area Chamber of Commerce, 528 Main St., Longmont. People planning to attend are asked to register in advance at longmontchamber.org or by calling 303-776-54295

Boulder Chamber Policy Committee: 12-2 p.m. Tuesday at the Boulder Chamber, 2440 Pearl St., Boulder. People planning to attend are asked to RSVP at boulderchamber.com/roundtableaugust14

Longmont’s and Boulder’s chambers of commerce will host separate presentations about the potential local impacts on the funding of area transportation projects if Colorado voters approve either of a pair of competing measures likely to be on November’s statewide ballot.

The Colorado Secretary of State’s Office is still counting the petition signatures turned in by backers of the two measures to verify whether enough were submitted to qualify for the ballot.

The two initiatives, and their current identification titles — designations that will change if they do wind up on the ballot — are:

• Initiative 153, whose proponents are calling the “Let’s Go Colorado” measure, which would increase the state’s 2.9 percent sales and use tax rate from 2.9 percent to 3.52 percent for 20 years, generating a projected $19.1 billion for state highway, multimodal, and local transportation spending. That measure would also allow the Colorado Department of Transportation to issue up to $6 billion in bonds to finance some of its transportation projects.

• Initiative 167, which proponents are touting as the “Fix Our Damn Roads” measure, which would allow Colorado to issue $3.5 billion in bonds to build road and bridge projects on the state highway system. There would be no tax increase to repay the principal and interest on those bonds; that expense would have to be covered from elsewhere in state government’s overall budget.

Chance to ask questions

The “Let’s Go Colorado” measure, Initiative 153, does not detail specific transportation projects in its proposed state law, but the Colorado Transportation Commission has issued a list of projects that could be funded if it does pass.

According to a summary prepared by Boulder County Transportation Department Director George Gerstle, those include: managed traffic lanes, bus rapid transit, bicycle paths and other improvements to the Colo. 119, also known as the Diagonal Highway, between Longmont and Boulder; managed lanes shoulders, bus rapid transit and other safety and intersection improvements to Colo. 7 between Boulder and Brighton; managed lanes, intersection work and bicycle and safety improvements to U.S. 287 between Longmont and Broomfield; safety and pedestrian improvement and bus rapid transit to Colo. 42 and 95th Street, Louisville; and transit improvements for regional bus rapid transit routes at 29th Street and Broadway, Boulder.

The “Fix Our Damn Roads” measure, Initiative 167, does include a list of specific improvements throughout Colorado that would be financed with that proposal’s bonds.

In the Boulder County and nearby southwest Weld County area, that would include: “corridor improvements” to Colo. 66 west of Interstate 25 into north Boulder County and widening, safety and intersection improvements to that state highway; expansion of the Colo. 119 traffic “capacity”; and adding an I- 25 lane in each direction between Colo. 7 and Colo. 14.

Tuesday morning’s Longmont Area Chamber of Commerce Public Policy Committee meeting and Tuesday afternoon’s Boulder Chamber Roundtable are both intended to give both chamber members’ and people from the general public an opportunity to hear backers of the rival measures describe what the passage of either — or both — would mean for addressing area transportation needs, according to head officers of both chambers.

Longmont Area Chamber of Commerce president and CEO Scott Cook said Friday that his goal is to give his chamber’s members the chance to ask questions directly of the Let’s Go Colorado and Fix Our Damn Roads campaign leaders on Tuesday.

‘Variety’ of approaches

Boulder Chamber president and CEO John Tayer said on Friday that members of the Northwest Chamber Alliance — a coalition of Boulder County and Broomfield chambers of commerce “feel it’s very important” to “get out in front on these issues” and the differing proposals for funding transportation that will face voters.

“There’s a variety of different approaches” to addressing transportation funding needs, Tayer said, “but we have to make a decision to move forward” with closing the gap between needs and currently available funding.

Both chambers will probably take formal stands on the ballot measures sometime after Tuesday’s meetings.

At both the Longmont and the Boulder chambers’ sessions, Kelly Brough, CEO and executive director the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce, is to speak in favor of “Let’s Go Colorado,” the ballot issue asking voters for the sales tax hike.

However, there was some uncertainty on Friday afternoon about whether The Independence Institute, the libertarian think tank that’s pushing the “Fix Our Damn Roads” measure, would have anyone at the two chambers’ meeting on Tuesday.

Longmont and Boulder chamber officials said they learned Friday that Shayne Madsen, The Independence Institute’s Political Law Center director, and the libertarian think tank’s representative who was slated to join the two meetings would not be at either because of a scheduling conflict.

Both chambers were seeking the Independence Institute to send someone else to replace Madsen on Tuesday’s panels.

The Longmont Area Chamber of Commerce’s morning program is to include a local overview of the two ballot measures from city transportation planner Phil Greenwald and additional local-perspective comments from Longmont Mayor Brian Bagley.

Boulder County’s Gerstle is to present a regional overview of what each of the two measures would mean, if approved in the election, at the Boulder Chamber’s Tuesday afternoon roundtable.

Boulder Mayor Suzanne Jones is to comment about local perspectives and implications.

Contact Staff Writer John Fryar at 303-684-5211 or jfryar@times-call.com or twitter.com/jfryartc

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