I have been with CDOT for over 20 years. In that time, I can tell you that the adoption of ISTEA has had the most significant influence on the operation of my organization. I should also note that in 1991, my organization was converted by our state legislature from a Department of Highways to a Department of Transportation. This new CDOT legislation also embraced the long range, multi-modal planning process put forth in ISTEA. Our transportation success in Colorado is evidence that ISTEA works!
Although, when we first began we thought implementing ISTEA was going to be the end of civilization as we knew it, I am proud to be here today to advocate that ISTEA works and only minor modifications to the Act are necessary. As you. may already be aware, Colorado Governor Roy Romer is part of the ISTEA WORKS coalition initiated by the Northeastern states. However, he has not endorsed any particular piece of legislation. It may seem unusual that a Rocky Mountain state would have any transportation commonality with the northeastern states, but in fact, we believe that the principles put forth by that group of states best meets Colorado's policy objectives in the reauthorization of ISTEA. For your convenience, I have attached a copy of Colorado's ISTEA Reauthorization Principles and the ISTEA WORKS Reauthorization Principles.
Colorado's ISTEA Reauthorization Principles are a representation of input from various interests in Colorado ranging from our modal, environmental, business and local planning partners. Because of the rapid growth in our state and our concern for the impact this growth will have on our environment and quality of life, all of these interests were anxious to work together. Our ability to develop a statement representing such broad interests is largely due to the communications and relationships built through the development of our 20-Year Statewide Transportation Plan.
I am personally very proud of Colorado's Statewide Plan. It took us five years and a great deal of work for the plan to be developed, but it was well worth the pain. Colorado's Statewide Plan is multi- modal, policy oriented and project specific. It is the reason why today our state legislature has the confidence to invest state general fund surplus revenues in transportation to meet our ever increasing transportation needs (~$830M over 5 Years with 20% allocated to our MIS corridors). It is also one of the reasons why our business community in Colorado is pursuing a tax initiative this November to further meet our mobility needs and address our ending shortfall. Colorado's 20-Year Priority Plan totals $27.3 billion. With anticipated revenues of $19 billion, our funding shortfall is approximately $8 billion. But you didn't ask me here to talk about money.
Colorado's Statewide Transportation Plan
Although our success in developing a statewide plan may not be unique, our experience was. I'm a strong believer in consensus building. I believe in bringing people to the table, talking about our needs and working together to determine the best transportation solutions for Colorado. And then, working together to get those solutions funded and built. As I stated before, in 1991 our state legislature embraced the policy direction established by ISTEA and further created a State Transportation Advisory Committee and 15 transportation planning regions. Together with CDOT, this group of representatives partnered to create our statewide plan. Colorado's Statewide Planning Process included the following:
-- Grassroots based process - broad public participation
-- 15 Transportation Planning Regions (TPRs) made up of local elected officials, planners, environmental, economic development interests and modal representatives
-- Consistent planning process and planning information provided to each TPR
-- Flexible to account for regional diversity
-- Regional "Preferred Plans" and "Constrained Plans"
-- Regional Plan priorities developed through criteria based consensus process
-- Statewide Plan created to reflect regional needs and regional priorities
-- Statewide Plan strived to balance quality of life issues regarding mobility, environment, and economic development
-- Statewide Plan incorporated State Significant System project priorities
The Plan that resulted from this process has two components: policy and projects. The Policy Plan includes policy direction, issues of statewide significance, and our transportation investment strategy. The Project Plan includes over 3,000 projects from regional transportation plans and establishes priorities among the projects
Public participation, fiscal constraint, modal integration, joint decision-making, major investment studies, conformity and enhancements are all part of what makes our plan successful. It is not to say however, that the process is perfect.
We in Colorado would like to see the following modifications made to ISTEA:
-- More flexibility given to the states to move money between categories. We are committed to the program but need flexibility to invest the dollars in the project areas prioritized through the planning process (i.e. ITS eligibility, funding available to all modal applications, etc.).
-- Streamline the Enhancement Program to a state administered grant program to allow for the most effective use of the funds and not dilute the programs objectives with administrative costs and Title 23 requirements.
-- Retain the MIS process with a more defined relationship with NEPA. We see the MIS process as a great tool in helping us determine what the best transportation modal investment should be in Colorado. We are committed to this process and encourage your support for its continuation. Colorado has gone further and established Corridor Investment Studies to address selected corridors outside the metropolitan areas.
-- Streamline the federal approval process to allow for program approvals on an annual or semi-annual basis rather than project- by-project.
-- Consolidate the 23 planning factors to a more manageable number as proposed by the Administration.
-- Continue the use of Innovative Financing tools that allow the states to creatively pursue mechanisms to leverage existing revenue streams.
I would like to conclude my remarks by once again stating that ISTEA WORKS for Colorado. I admire your leadership in addressing the nations transportation challenges and I hope the experiences I have shared with you today help you better understand the impact this legislation has on our state and our communities. I appreciate the opportunity to come before you today. I can answer any questions that you may have for me.
1. The policy direction initiated by the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA) should continue with minor modification.
Colorado supports continued evolution of the policy concepts initiated in ISTEA specifically in the areas of public participation, partnership, state and local decision making, environmental/air quality sensitivity and multi-modal long range planning. Colorado recognizes the value of increased coordination and cooperation with all levels of government and the private sector and the benefit each provides to the overall transportation system.
-- Colorado is committed to continuing a strong public participation process as part of our statewide planning process.
-- Colorado advocates joint decision-making with our federal/state/regional and local partners.
-- Colorado has demonstrated commitment to the policy direction initiated by ISTEA and believes, based on individual state priorities, that it should be a determination of the state as to what programs modified and continued.
2. Greater flexibility of federal funding is essential to implement state and locally determined transportation solutions. Colorado should have the authority to invest in any mode of transportation or technology deemed appropriate to accomplishing access, environmental/air quality and mobility goals and objectives. Colorado supports the concept of making federal transportation funds more flexible for state and locally determined investment.
-- Definition of Flexible Funds - Funds utilized to design, construct and preserve any transportation mode (as defined in 43-1-102(6), C.R.S. for highways, rail, transit, aviation, etc.) as determined through the statewide transportation planning process to most appropriately meet the transportation needs to move people, goods and information in the state.
-- Colorado has invested heavily in developing our long-range multi-modal planning process. We are committed to continued investment in this approach in order to reach our goal of a sustaining a viable transportation system while maintaining quality of life for our citizens. This objective is attainable if federal programs are simplified by allowing program funding to be flexible and project selection to be driven by locally identified needs.
-- Colorado is committed to the continued use of major investment studies (MIS) as one means or determining the best modal solution within congested corridors.
-- Colorado supports the continuation of the current programs under ISTEA. However, due to the varying conditions and problems from state-to-state and mode-to-mode, greater flexibility is needed betwcen and within programs. Therefore, Colorado is opposed to any additional federal categorical requirements, set asides and suballocations that inhibit the flexibility of the state and MPO's to adequately invest funds. Colorado also supports the current fully flexible suballocation to the Transportation Management Areas (TMA's).
-- Colorado supports the reduction in take downs an any other mechanisms used to decrease the total funding available to be distributed back to the states.
3. Eliminate mandates, sanctions, and restrictions.
Great strides were made through NHS to eliminate many onerous mandates that held no relationship to state's priorities or needs. Colorado supports the continued elimination of mandates and sanctions that limit the powers of the state to implement individual states needs Congress should either eliminate mandates and restrictions that show little cost effectiveness or fully fund remaining mandates that impact the funding of other transportation programs.
-- All remaining unfunded mandates should be eliminated. Specifically the DUI zero-tolerance penalty, and the safety and congestion management system mandates.
-- Federal programs should be geared more toward incentives for increased participation rather than sanctions.
-- Federal restrictions, such as the ability to toll the interstate and privatize the rest areas on federal aid facilities, should be left to the discretion of the states.
-- Simplify and reduce federal regulations that often limit state flexibility and constrain already limited federal dollars.
4. Reduce federal DOT oversight and reporting requirements.
ISTEA emphasized an increase in efficiency of both programs and the administration of funds. Colorado believes a streamlining of the federal administration of programs could significantly improve the overall efficiency and effective use of very limited federal dollars. Where ever possible, Congress should provide for increased self-certification by the states and delegate current federal regulatory oversight to the state and local agencies.
- Federal reporting requirements often require excessive staff resources that exceed the perceived federal benefit. Relationships between federal reporting and state compliance should be further clarified and simplified where possible.
-- States should be allowed to certify compliance with federal guidelines/objectives in order to simplify the process.
-- Through ISTEA, Colorado has developed successful partnerships among players and brought about a unified transportation agenda. As such, Colorado favors a unified transportation budget and a surface transportation administration to support our continued success.
5. Colorado advocates: Full funding of the federal transportation program; returning the 4.3 cents gas tax from the general fund; spending down the Highway Trust Fund; and taking the trust funds off budget.
1. Maintain the course set by ISTEA. It represented a revolutionary change from past transportation legislation and was the result of a truly bipartisan effort that recognized how interdependent the state's economies are and, thus, designed sound programs that benefit the nation as a whole. The 4O-year Interstate Highway constwction era was shifted to a new era of highway and transit system preservation, increasing efficiency of existing networks. and improved intermodal integration to support efficiency and a sound economy.
2. Reauthorize ISTEA with simplification and refinement but without significant chances. While improvements can be made, its fundamental structure is sound and should be preserved. States, regional and local governments have invested heavily in making ISTEA work. This Investment should not be wasted.
3. Authorize the maximum level of federal investment possible, over the next five years, in our nations multi-modal transportation systems. All sources of revenue that currently fund transportation should be maintained and maximized. Recognize the crucial link between investments in transportation and our ability, as a nation, to compete globally. The return on these investments is unparalleled in government.
4. Allocate funds to states primarily based on needs. Adjustments to reflect system usage, system extent, level of effort, each state's overall balance of federal payments. and historic distribution patterns should also be considered. In addition, discretionary funding programs should be continued in order to meet extraordinary and emergency needs.
5. Retain the federal government's role as a key transportation partner to help fund highway, bridge and transit projects and to assure that a national focus remains on mobility, connectivity, uniformity, integrity, safety and research. Our nations's transportation programs should also continue to support related national goals such as improved air quality, economic competitiveness, and improved quality of life.
6. Preserve and strengthen the partnerships among federal, state and local governments and between the public and private sectors which were formed to implement ISTEA. Shared responsibility for national transportation interests. encouraging public participation in the planning process, building national coalitions. and the promotion of environmentally fdendly intermodal transportation projects must be provided for. The current program for metropolitan areas with more than 200,000 population and the state role in the metropolitan planning process should also be retained.
7. Reauthorize ISTEA to continue current programs and refrain from creating any new funding categories or set-a-sides. Due to the varying conditions and problems from state-to-state and mode-to-mode, it should also allow greater flexibility between programs and eligibility within programs.
8. Minimize prescriptive federal regulations to allow for a more efficient and effective transportation program and eliminate federal/state duplication. Reauthorized ISTEA should continue to reduce time consuming federal reviews, onerous mandates and sanctions. and allow self-certification at the state level.
9. Permit state and local jurisdictions to apply innovative financing solutions to address the growing transportation financing gap. States should be allowed to utilize their unobligated balances to guarantee bonds, enhance credit and capitalize state infrastructure banks.
10. Continue to support research. development and deployment of ways to improve quality and efficiency. This should include new technology such as ITS, as well as new materials, designs and practices.