Officials consider state roads

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As officials make plans to improve Colorado's roads, the biggest question they face is how to fund the work.

The vision for the 2030 statewide transportation plan, as well as the $60 billion to $100 billion funding gap the state will encounter that year, were discussed at a meeting of the State Transportation Advisory Committee last Friday.

Routt County Commissioner Dan Ellison, who serves as an alternate representative to the board for the Northwest Transportation Planning Region, said funding shortfalls could have a big effect in coming years.

The Colorado Department of Transportation is predicting state and other revenues to be $75 billion in 2030, while saying that $123 billion is needed to sustain current conditions, and more than $178 billion is needed to build what the department envisions.

Residents will have to realize "you probably aren't going to get everything you want," Ellison said. "The costs are going to increase, and where's the money to do that?"

At Friday's meeting, officials discussed a draft transportation vision for the state, which included improvements that the public has said are important, as well as the state's top strategies.

According to the draft vision, the public has said it wants to be able to visit mountain towns and ski areas without sitting in traffic; drive on safe roads; make travel efficient without disrupting local communities, economic growth and the environment; and have alternatives for people who cannot drive.

The top strategies in the draft vision include resurfacing roads, reducing congestion, improving safety, adding passing lanes, repairing and replacing bridges, expanding bus and rail services, providing bicycle and pedestrian facilities, and promoting carpooling.

The Northwest Transportation Planning Region that Ellison represents includes Routt, Moffat, Rio Blanco, Grand and Jackson counties.

For Northwest Colorado, connecting roads that run north-south from Interstate 70 are "extremely important," Ellison said. Those state highways include Colorado highways 131, 9 and 13.

-- To reach Susan Cunningham, call 871-4203 or e-mail sbacon@steamboatpilot.com

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