Transportation panel to visit | SteamboatToday.com

Transportation panel to visit

Group will make stops in Craig and Steamboat this week

Brandon Gee

Cars descend Rabbit Ears Pass on U.S. Highway 40 on Saturday afternoon. The Colorado Transportation Finance and Implementation Panel will make stops in Craig and Steamboat Springs this week to talk with community leaders about the months ahead.

— Routt County Commissioner Diane Mitsch Bush hopes transportation funding won’t take a back seat in 2009.

In a January report, the Colorado Transportation Finance and Implementation Panel identified a $155 billion funding gap that will occur if no new sources of revenue are created for the Colorado Department of Transportation. The panel recommended five new funding sources it estimated would generate $1.5 million annually.

The panel’s work went largely ignored in the 2008 state legislative session. In an effort to prevent the same in 2009, the panel is in the midst of a five-week, 25-meeting tour of the state that stops in Craig and Steamboat Springs this week.

“I think it is going to be the key issue in the Legislature in 2009,” said County Commissioner Diane Mitsch Bush, who is coordinating the two meetings. “I’m certainly expecting something.”

At the meetings, the panel will discuss its findings and work with community leaders to develop an “action plan” for the months ahead.

“The audience should be everybody,” Mitsch Bush said. “Transportation affects everybody. Transportation is about our quality of life. Transportation is about recreation. Without a functional, reliable, safe, well-funded transportation system, our economy and our security don’t work as well. : It’s even more important for an economy whose base is largely tourism.”

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The panel was seated by Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter, who has identified transportation funding as a top priority.

“The strength of Colorado’s economy depends in large part on our ability to fund and build a modern, 21st-century transportation system,” Ritter said in a press release. “But, as members of the transportation panel know, our roads and bridges are deteriorating, and our major revenue sources are declining.

“These meetings are helping to educate the public about this ‘quiet crisis’ and explain why transportation is so important to our economy. We need the public to be involved as we move forward and discuss possible solutions.”

If you go

What: Colorado Transportation Finance and Implementation Panel’s “call to action” meetings

In Craig: 2 p.m. Wednesday, Craig City Hall, 300 Fourth St.

In Steamboat: 9 a.m. Thursday, Olympian Hall, 845 Howelsen Parkway

Call: Routt County Commissioner Diane Mitsch Bush at 870-5220 for more information