The Transportation Legislation Review Committee Gets Moving

by Chuck Brackney

During the 2012 interim, the Transportation Legislation Review Committee (TLRC) met  four times to hear presentations from a wide spectrum of individuals and groups involved in meeting Colorado’s transportation needs. It also approved eight bills for introduction in the 2013 regular session.

The committee, comprised of the members of the transportation committees from both the Senate and House of Representatives, is charged in statute with conducting a “review [of] transportation, traffic, and motor vehicle legislation” and “may consult with experts in the fields of traffic regulation and titling of motor vehicles, and highway construction and planning”. (43-2-145 C.R.S.)

The TLRC began its work with a presentation from the state Department of Transportation (CDOT). Chief Financial Officer Ben Stein and Chief Engineer Tim Harris told the committee about the “five-plus-one” plan, which involves five external initiatives and one internal initiative, as well as the possible options for lowering and covering the Interstate-70 segment near the Denver Colosseum. Tony DeVito from CDOT discussed the ongoing issues concerning the segment of Interstate-70 that extends from Denver through the mountains.

Also speaking were Greg Fulton of the Colorado Motor Carriers Association and R.J. Hicks of the Western State Transportation Alliance. They noted that the trucking industry employs more than 90,000 workers in Colorado.

Mike Dixon from the Department of Revenue discussed driver’s license renewals and wait times at local offices, pointing out that the Department has implemented a “wait less” program that has begun to decrease the time customers spend in some local offices renewing their licenses. Maren Rubino from the Division of Motor Vehicles provided a comprehensive look at Colorado license plates, including the seven new plates in the 2012 inventory. She also suggested proposed legislation to clean up registration and retire outdated license plates.

There was considerable interest in the presentation from the Regional Transportation District (RTD). Lee Kemp, the chairman of RTD’s Board of Directors, and Phillip Washington, general manager and CEO of RTD, spoke about the status of the many projects RTD currently has in progress. They pointed out that the West Line of light rail is set to open ahead of schedule in April 2013. Renovation work is in progress on Union Station, and property acquisitions are underway for the East Line and Gold Line of light rail.

Some members of the committee expressed concern regarding the lack of progress on the northern segments of the light rail project, noting that, by some estimates, completion of the line to Longmont may take until the 2040s.

Representatives from public highway authorities told the committee about their respective roadways. These included E-470, the Northwest Parkway, and the Jefferson Parkway, which is the project to complete the beltway around the Denver metro area.

Charles Johnson and Brian Gaboriau from the Department of Public Health and Environment spoke about the waste tire recycling program. More than 5 million waste tires are generated in Colorado each year. Most of these tires are successfully recycled and used in a variety of locations, including athletic fields and playgrounds, with some of the waste even being used to generate fuel.

Denver Manager of Aviation Kim Day provided a summary of the latest happenings at Denver International Airport, including groundbreaking on the construction of the new 519-room airport terminal Westin hotel and the light rail station. She said the 45-minute waiting area is set to be upgraded to include a food court and restroom facilities. She also mentioned DIA’s new route to Tokyo, set to begin service early next year. The aviation information provided to the TLRC continued with presentations concerning regional airports around the state and an update on Centennial Airport.

Minutes and materials from all of the TLRC meetings are available HERE.

The committee concluded its work with consideration of a number of bill proposals. The following bills were approved:

  • Adding two at-large members to the Transportation Commission who are charged with considering the entire statewide transportation system rather than representing geographical districts;
  • Increasing the use of alternative fuel vehicles by Colorado state government;
  • Establishing that five or more nanograms of THC in a driver’s bloodstream constitutes impairment;
  • Implementing the recommendations of the Division of Motor Vehicles regarding the notice of vehicle registration and the retirement of two unused specialty license plates;
  • Allowing the electronic filing of ownership taxes for rental mobile machinery;
  • Eliminating the fee for a veteran’s identifier on a Colorado driver’s license;
  • Capping the number of specialty license plates; and
  • Amending the state’s safety oversight program to comply with a federal requirement and allow RTD to continue to receive federal funds.

These bills will be considered by the Legislative Council at its meeting on October 15, and, if approved, introduced in the 2013 regular session.