Downtown Denver Partnership Board Takes Position on Statewide Transportation Funding Proposal

February 28, 2018

The Downtown Denver Partnership has joined a bipartisan statewide coalition to move forward with a plan to ask voters to consider a sustainable, dedicated funding source to address Colorado’s transportation infrastructure. The plan—which addresses critical unmet transportation needs—will ask Coloradans to invest in our transportation infrastructure through an increase in sales tax.

A sales tax increase, unlike other sources of funding, taxes the 80 million out-of-state visitors who use our infrastructure each year, and raises enough revenue to immediately begin to address our transportation problems.

Former Centennial Mayor Cathy Noon and Summit County Commissioner Dan Gibbs filed four initiatives on behalf of the coalition with the intention to move one of them forward onto the ballot. The first three initiatives propose sales tax increases of .5 percent, 0.62 percent and 1 percent, which amounts to five to 10 cents on a $10 purchase. The fourth proposal includes a 0.5 percent sales tax increase and requires the state to transfer $150 million from the General Fund each year to state and local transportation projects.

All four proposals would have the same funding formula, dividing revenues between the state of local communities:

  • State Projects: 45 percent of the funding will go toward addressing projects on major highways, like I-25 and I-70, to state highways that connect communities throughout Colorado. Our needs at the state level are serious and immediate. By using bonds, we’ll be able to start these projects right away.
  • Local Projects: Local governments will have full flexibility of 40percent of the funding. This revenue will be split 50/50 between cities and counties.
  • Multimodal projects: 15 percent of the funding will support multimodal transportation options that decrease traffic congestion and protect our air quality, including bus service, large scale bike lanes and paths, and improvements for pedestrians.

Because we believe securing this additional funding is imperative, the Downtown Denver Partnership is in support of a sales tax increase of up to 0.62 percent.

The proposed sales tax increase will—despite our state’s rapid population growth—be the first change to Colorado’s transportation funding in 25 years. Today, Colorado spends $69 per person on transportation infrastructure, compared to 25 years ago when we spent almost twice that amount— $125 per person.

Our failure to invest in infrastructure comes at a significant cost to drivers in Colorado. On average, Denver’s drivers spend $2,162 annually on costs related to traffic congestion delays, damage to vehicles, accidents and lost gas efficiency. This funding is a statewide solution that ensures local governments have the resources to meet demands, address high-priority projects on I-70, I-25 and other state highways, and promotes multimodal transportation options that reduce congestion and protect our airy quality.

“A statewide solution to transportation and mobility funding is imperative to the economic health of our center city,” said Tami Door, President and CEO of the Downtown Denver Partnership, “These funds will support projects and improvements that will strengthen the mobility network that gets people to and around Downtown.”