DRCOG Annual Retreat

Diane Chesbro and I attended the annual board retreat of the Denver Regional Council of Governments this weekend (Friday evening and Saturday).  I serve on the board and Diane is Golden's board alternate.  The board, as you may know, is made up of one elected representative from each of the cities and counties in the region.  One of the more interesting discussions had to do with finding funding for key transportation needs in the Denver Metro region.  One of the more popular ideas is the creation of a Denver Metro Regional Transportation Authority (RTA).  This would basically be a special district created for the purpose of imposing a new tax specifically to raise money for transportation projects.  Of course the residents of the special district area would have to vote in favor of creating the RTA, and Jefferson County residents don't seem especially supportive of new taxes (except for open space).

That said, if the proponents could clearly identify the specific projects to be funded and if the voters thought those projects were important enough maybe they would approve it.  Of course our major concern in Golden would be ensuring that none of these funds could be used for the superhighway, but I think I would also want to see a reasonable proportion of the funding allocated to transit projects (additional light rail stations, improved bus service, and the like).

Other ideas discussed by the DRCOG board included increasing the state gas tax, creating some sort of "miles traveled" tax, improving Colorado's share of the federal transportation pie (or getting more earmarks for key Colorado projects), and tolling.  It will be very interesting to see which of these ideas get the most traction and how they begin to take shape.  My role on the DRCOG board is to both promote good regional solutions to regional challenges like transportation but also to ensure that Golden's interests are protected.

The Jefferson County Commissioners, incidentally, are considering doing a county-wide RTA.  I believe they will soon be asking Golden City Council for our support.  I don't have a position on it yet, but can say definitively I would not support an RTA that didn't include a legally-binding assurance that the funds could not be used for the superhighway.


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