Gibbs off to DC to fight for transportation funding |

Gibbs off to DC to fight for transportation funding

Caddie Nath
Summit Daily News
Summit County Commissioner Dan Gibbs

Summit County Commissioner Dan Gibbs is boarding an eastbound plane this morning, joining a coalition of state leaders headed to Washington to fight for Colorado’s federal transportation funding.

The nearly $400 million the Colorado Department of Transportation receives yearly from the federal fuel tax is in jeapordy with the tax’s Sept. 30 expiration date approaching and Congress divided on extension proposals.

“Why it’s so critical right now is that there’s a lot of talk that the House and the Senate just cannot agree on any extension,” Gibbs said. “The federal gas tax could go away and that could mean … between $90 million and $110 million (in revenue for transportation in Colorado) per day that could be lost nationwide.”

Gibbs and a team of seven other state leaders, including members of the Colorado Transportation Commission, the Denver Regional Council of Governments, the Colorado Department of Transportation, the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce and Colorado Counties Inc., will meet with Senators Mark Udall and Michael Bennet as well as several Colorado congressional members about the issue during their packed two-day trip to the nation’s capital this week.

“We’re hoping that the whole Colorado delegation can be on the same page, whether you’re a Republican or a Democrat, that we need to pass something to make sure that Colorado doesn’t fall into a situation where we’re not taking care of our transportation infrastructure needs,” said Gibbs, who formerly chaired the state Senate Transportation Committee. “It’s a really challenging time back there. It’s very partisan, but I’m hoping the cooler hats can prevail and folks can figure out what’s best for Colorado and what’s best for the United States.”

The Colorado Department of Transportation currently operates on an approximately $1-billion annual budget, and some reports indicate the department would need an additional billion dollars a year just to keep up with population growth and existing infrastructure needs, Gibbs said. Nearly $400 million of CDOT’s budget comes from the federal fuel tax. It is money that would disappear if Congress does not come to an agreement by the end of the month.

The Senate has put forward an extension plan that would keep funding at current levels for the next two years, but the House of Representatives is touting a six-year plan that would impose deep cuts on transportation funding, which would cut Colorado’s slice of the pie by approximately $70 million.

The impacts of significant cuts would almost certainly trickle down to transportation infrastructure projects locally, some of which have already been put on hold.

Gibbs said his game plan is to remind Colorado’s leaders in Washington of the importance of our road and highway system to the state’s overall success as a tourism destination.

“I’m going to stress the importance that transportation plays not only to our state’s economy but to our local economy,” he said. “I’m going to try to bring home that funding our roads and infrastructure equals good business, not only for Main Street, but for the State of Colorado.”

Gibbs and his group won’t be the only ones fighting for transportation funding. Almost every state in the country is sending similar groups to meet with their respective leaders and deliver the same message, he said.

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