Executive Director, CoPIRG
Executive Director, CoPIRG
DENVER – With the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) poised to adopt a policy directive articulating the strategies the state and local governments will use to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector, the Denver Regional Council of Governments (DRCOG) approved $40 million entirely focused on climate-friendly projects including progress on key bus rapid transit lines, a bikeway, and safety projects.
The advocates behind Recalibrating Transportation — a report released last month that makes the case for focusing transportation investments on transit, walking, biking, safety and location-efficient land use — celebrated DRCOG’s close adherence to its recommendations and called for future decisions, which could amount to nearly $4 billion in 2022, to follow the pattern of this initial investment.
“We applaud DRCOG and local government leaders for investing the first $40 million of the unprecedented state and federal transportation funding in transit, biking, safety, main streets, and walkable communities,” said Rachel Hultin, Bicycle Colorado’s Sustainable Transportation Director. “It’s a small but promising step towards reducing the number of cars on the road and creating the future we all want for the next generation.”
“With unprecedented dollars flowing to Colorado’s transportation system, we called for a focus on five things: transit, biking, safety, complete streets, and walkable communities,” said Danny Katz, CoPIRG executive director. “I’m excited to see the first $40 million was approved last night for exactly those things. This is just a small piece of the $4 billion of investments we expect will be decided just this year by our state and local leaders – let’s use this first $40 million as a model so we can expand transportation options, increase safety and cut pollution.”
The $40.3 million in investments approved by the DRCOG board on Wednesday night will fund six regional projects. Some of the approved funding comes from the recently passed federal funding bills.
- $11.2 million to move bus rapid transit forward on SH-119 in Boulder County
- $12 million to move bus rapid transit forward on Colfax in Denver
- $3.6 million to construct part of a bikeway along SH-119 in Boulder County
- $7.2 million to design multimodal improvements along SH-7 in Broomfield
- $2.1 million to construct biking and walking improvements along Santa Fe Dr in Arapahoe County
- $4 million to construct a mobility hub in Lone Tree that will connect a new commercial and residential urban center with RTD services and Bustang. The center is projected to have 8,000 new homes (350 affordable) and 35,000 jobs with a mix of office, hotel, retail, dining, and entertainment. It is a great example of fostering livable communities outlined in Recalibrating Transportation.
DRCOG’s approval came a day before CDOT is expected to approve its Policy Directive for its recently-adopted greenhouse gas emission reduction rule, which requires the state and local governments to reduce climate change-inducing pollution from transportation by 1.5 MMT by 2030. One key piece of the Policy Directive will serve as a scoring system for projects’ greenhouse gas reduction impacts, which should guide local and state project selection and decision making around land use and development.
“CDOT’s new GHG Policy Directive gives transportation planners the tools and calculators to cut pollution by quantifying the GHG impacts of transit, bike lanes, sidewalks, and transportation-efficient land use patterns,” said Matt Frommer, Senior Transportation Associate at SWEEP. “It’s encouraging to watch the conversation shift from ‘how do we move cars faster’ to ‘how do we give people more travel options and build communities that are more walkable and transit-friendly.’”
The advocates behind the Recalibrating Transportation report, Bicycle Colorado, CoPIRG, Southwest Energy Efficiency Project (SWEEP), Denver Streets Partnership, and NRDC, calculate that approximately $4 billion will be decided in the next year including CDOT’s FY23 budget, additional TIP calls at DRCOG, and the FY22-26 investments that will be included in CDOT’s revised 10-Year plan.
“There is so much at stake right now when it comes to transportation funding. Many decisions will be made in the next few years that will determine whether Colorado will double down on our existing transportation system or whether leaders will choose to move us towards a more sustainable and equitable future,” said Molly McKinley, Policy Director at the Denver Streets Partnership. “These investments are a great step in the right direction and exactly the types of things we’d like to see funded at higher levels in the coming years.”
“Transit, biking and walking are critical solutions for climate change and air pollution,” said Alana Miller, NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) climate and clean energy director for Colorado. “How we spend dollars today greatly influences the communities we’ll have for the future, and this is an important first step to making them healthy, sustainable and livable.”
The next major funding decisions include:
- DRCOG’s second TIP call for projects, which launched May 2. Applications are due June 24 with a final decision anticipated in September
- CDOT’s adoption of a revised 10-Year plan including a more detailed breakdown of the next four years of investments. This process is happening now and adoption is anticipated in September
The full Recalibrating Transportation report can be found here.