Move Colorado Policy Principle #1: Colorado’s state and local transportation system must be adequately funded.
- Do you believe the current transportation system is adequately funded?
No. As a long-time advocate for transportation*, I am well aware that the proportion of transportation funding relative to the state budget is dramatically less than it used to be. The state’s failure to fund transportation costs our state $3.5 billion per year in lost time and wasted fuel. (March 2021 TRIP Report.)
I was a supporter of SB97-01, which transferred money from the general fund to the Highway Users Tax Fund and opposed its repeal. Sales tax that our residents pay on purchasing automobiles and related products should be used to fund transportation.
In contrast to the state, our community has addressed transportation needs through the Pikes Peak RTA I helped create, which was just renewed by our voters with 75% of the vote. I referred both that extension and the 2C extension (which funds road maintenance) to the ballot and supported both. These local measures, however, generally don’t address state highway funding.
- What are your priorities within transportation during the next 4 years?
Colorado Springs residents should have multiple transportation choices so that each can choose what is best for their needs with dollars directed primarily based on citizen’s usage. I have successfully championed road infrastructure projects, including the widening of I-25, creating the Pikes Peak RTA and renewing 2C. As mayor, I will ensure that Colorado Springs has a transportation infrastructure that meets the needs of our growing city. Any new growth must be accompanied by enough infrastructure to sustain it.
During the next four years my top four transportation priorities are:
- Ensure we meet the promises made in the PPRTA and 2C and advance the promised work where possible.
- Refer to the voters and obtain approval for the renewal of 2C in 2024.
- Obtain state funding for necessary improvements on our area’s state highway system.
- Construct the long-discussed downtown bus terminal.
- What is your approach to using innovative financing tools for our transportation system?
I seek to use innovative financing where appropriate, including (1) working with many funding sources to obtain funding as we have done on several projects, (2) working with other governments to construct projects in advance of promised dates, which we are currently doing with the Powers extension to the north (in cooperation with a special district), and (3) advancing state projects through local funding
where appropriate – e.g., we obtained voter approval to construct the Baptist Road/I-25 interchange in advance of CDOT funding and entered an innovative agreement in which CDOT eventually repaid the cost of construction.
In situations in which I believe existing revenue is not enough to fund essential services, it is necessary and appropriate to ask the taxpayers for permission for additional funding. As an elected official, I have referred several ballot measures, including creating the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority. That measure ensured accountability through audits and citizen oversight, limited overhead to less than 1%, and guaranteed specific projects. We delivered what we promised, and our citizens just renewed the PPRTA with 79.4% of the vote.
As mayor I will work first to ensure that we are efficiently using the funds we receive. In appropriate circumstances, I will support referring measure to the citizens seeking their permission.
Move Colorado Policy Principle #2: Colorado’s transportation system is – and should be – all modes working together.
- How do you define a balanced transportation system?
A balanced transportation system is one that has an adequate supply of transportation options based on demand for them. The PPRTA allocated 10% for transit when we created it. We’ve also included trails and bus station improvements in our capital projects. As most of our residents prefer to travel by personal vehicle, we must fund our roads and bridges as the top priority.
- What elements of the transportation system will be your top priority in the next 4 years?
Currently, most Colorado Springs residents use personal automotive transportation. Therefore, road infrastructure is my top priority. We need to do more to enhance east-west mobility in the city. I support studying potential projects and stakeholder engagement to allow us to weigh that need against potential environmental and neighborhood impacts.
Additionally, I support other transportation projects for mass transit and trails. I have been a big advocate for TOPS, which plays an important role in the acquisition, development, and maintenance of our trails.
- What elements of our transportation system will be a top priority in the long term?
All of the above. Roads will remain the top priority until such time that we have flying cars.
Move Colorado Policy Principle #3: Colorado’s transportation system must embrace sustainability, environmental stewardship, and resilience.
- As Mayor of Colorado Springs how will you balance sustainability, environmental stewardship, and system resiliency while ensuring economic productivity through the movement of goods and services?
Vehicles idling on congested roads adversely impact our environment. Reducing congestion – and saving Coloradans the 19 gallons of gas spent idling will improve our air quality. I will always be an advocate for environmental stewardship when it comes to city infrastructure projects and will continue to weigh environmental impacts before committing to support any such project. I do not believe that increasing congestion is a way to improve our environment.
On the energy production side, as Chairman of the Colorado Springs Utilities Board, I’ve been actively working on making necessary upgrades to our power grid to ensure that it is reliable, clean and safe from attack. I successfully led the closure of the 97-year-old coal-fueled Drake Power Plant and replaced it with more economical and cleaner power generation.
Move Colorado Policy Principle #4: Technology is rapidly advancing and will be a key driver in the future of Colorado’s transportation system.
- What is your vision for how technology can improve our transportation needs?
While I’m not sure what the future might hold, I believe we should have a city government that will adapt to advancements in technology and use those advancements to benefit the community and fulfill our transportation needs.
In Colorado Springs we are using technology to better synchronize our traffic lights, which reduces congestion and increases capacity.
We’ve also used innovative approaches to design road improvements (such as left turn lanes ahead of an intersection) allowing more throughput by reducing the number of cycles on traffic lights.
* My work includes (1) creation of the PPRTA in 2004 and serving as its chair in in 2006 and 2023, (2) chair of the Baptist Road RTA, (3) Vice Chair of the State Transportation Advisory Committee, (4) Chair of Colorado Counties Inc. Transportation and Telecommunications Steering Committee, (5) Bill Ritter’s Technical Advisory Committee for the Blue Ribbon Commission, (6) Three-time Chair of the Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments, and (7) a host of other transportation related committees.