Perlmutter Outlines Transportation Priorities, Recommendations to Invest in Infrastructure and Grow Economy

f t # e
Lakewood, CO, September 22, 2015 | comments

In advance of Congress’ vote to fund the Highway Trust Fund, U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter (CO-07) sent a letter to U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx and Deputy Secretary Victor Mendez outlining transportation priorities for Colorado and the 7th Congressional District. The letter also includes several recommendations to better invest in our nation’s infrastructure and grow our economy.

“Colorado’s two major interstates, I-25 and I-70, require billions to maintain and expand.  Without the certainty of a long-term extension with increased funding for our transportation systems, the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) and Denver’s Regional Transportation District (RTD) will not be able to maintain an efficient transportation network across the Denver metro region... The US-36 expansion will have large impacts on the communities in my district that reside along this growing highway line, in the form of shorter travel times, cleaner air, and improved quality of life.”

“RTD is also in the midst of completing a number of commuter rail lines that connect downtown Denver to the metro-region’s suburbs including Adams and Jefferson Counties. Starting next year, RTD plans on opening five lines (commuter, light rail, and BRT). Without federal funding and a willing federal partner none of these projects would attract local and private partners to help fill funding needs,” the letter warns.

The letter mentions several important federal financing programs like New Starts/Small Starts funding and the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA), which has provided invaluable federal credit assistance to help RTD and local communities leverage non-federal funding to advance improvements at Denver Union Station and build expanded rail service. In addition, the letter proposes a two-pronged funding approach to fund the Highway Trust Fund.

“Congress must now find a solution to fund our long-term transportation infrastructure needs. There is bipartisan agreement that Congress should pursue replenishing the Highway Trust Fund with revenues raised through international tax reform that includes “deemed repatriation” of U.S. dollars stranded overseas. This has the added benefit of making U.S.-based companies more competitive,” the letter reads. “Yet we need a sustainable and dedicated user fee model to continue funding infrastructure projects into the future. This two-pronged funding approach allows us to fund our nation’s infrastructure priorities so we can continue to be competitive, ensure a strong economy and create good middle-class jobs.”

Rep. Perlmutter also plans to re-introduce the Livable Communities Act to help local communities develop comprehensive regional plans that incorporate transportation, housing, community, economic development and environmental needs.

Funding for the Highway Trust Fund was scheduled to run out July 31, 2015.  In July, the House and Senate approved a three-month extension which means funding for several programs will now run out October 29, 2015. Lack of action or delayed action could cause programs financed through the trust fund to shut down, partially or completely. Close to half of the Colorado Department of Transportation’s $1.1 billion annual budget comes from federal funding, including funding for projects vital to the 7th Congressional District such as the I-25 Managed Lanes Project and RTD FasTracks’ projects like the West Line, Gold Line and North Metro Rail Line. 

See below for the full letter.

September 22, 2015

The Honorable Anthony Foxx                                                The Honorable Victor Mendez

Secretary                                                                            Deputy Secretary

Department of Transportation                                               Department of Transportation

1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE                                                1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE

Washington, DC 20590                                                        Washington, DC 20590                                 

Dear Secretary Foxx & Deputy Secretary Mendez,

As a member of the New Democrat Coalition, I am committed to finding solutions to grow our economy through infrastructure investment. Investing in our nation’s aging infrastructure is a major opportunity to move our communities into the 21st century and maintain our competitiveness globally. I know you share my concern that our infrastructure spending does not meet the enormous demand in communities nation-wide.

Colorado’s two major interstates, I-25 and I-70, require billions to maintain and expand.  Without the certainty of a long-term extension with increased funding for our transportation systems, the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) and Denver’s Regional Transportation District (RTD) will not be able to maintain an efficient transportation network across the Denver metro region.

I want to thank Deputy Secretary Victor Mendez for attending the unveiling of the recently completed Phase 1 of the US-36 corridor project in June. It was a pleasure having the Deputy Secretary witness the work being done in Colorado. The US-36 expansion will have large impacts on the communities in my district that reside along this growing highway line, in the form of shorter travel times, cleaner air, and improved quality of life.

RTD is also in the midst of completing a number of commuter rail lines that connect downtown Denver to the metro-region’s suburbs including Adams and Jefferson Counties. Starting next year, RTD plans on opening five lines (commuter, light rail, and BRT). Without federal funding and a willing federal partner none of these projects would attract local and private partners to help fill funding needs.

Federal financing programs like the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) have provided invaluable federal credit assistance to help RTD and local communities leverage non-federal funding to advance improvements at Denver Union Station and build expanded rail service. The Senate planned to slash this useful program. However, Congress should maintain a strong TIFIA program enabling states like Colorado to leverage Public/Public and Public/Private Partnerships. Provisions to mitigate the impacts of reduced TIFIA authorizations by eliminating the potential transfer of uncommitted TIFIA funds set the right balance. 

Bus transportation, particularly high-quality bus rapid transit service, plays an important role in addressing Colorado’s transportation needs. Yet under MAP-21, the bus rapid transit (BRT) definitions were narrowed, resulting in many types of BRT projects no longer qualifying for federal New Starts and Small Starts funding. We urge you to support improvements to the ill-fitting federal requirements regarding short bus headways and exclusive BRT lanes, to enable regional mobility needs and commuting patterns to govern these BRT service decisions. Provisions like that found in the Senate’s DRIVE Act, which include a slight broadening of a BRT definition regarding bus headways, are a good first step in ensuring federal transit laws more accurately reflect how BRT service works in communities across the country. I urge the Department to prioritize these requested revisions to the BRT definition under any long-term transportation bill.

Longer-term, we need to refocus how our nation develops infrastructure and development projects. I plan on re-introducing the Livable Communities Act. The act aims to help local communities develop comprehensive regional plans that incorporate transportation, housing, community, economic development and environmental needs. By implementing cross-cutting projects, communities can create and preserve affordable housing, support pedestrian and bicycle thoroughfares, redevelop brownfields and foster economic development. I urge the Department to consider holistic proposals which would focus on infrastructure projects that include expanding community-wide benefits.

Congress must now find a solution to fund our long-term transportation infrastructure needs. There is bipartisan agreement that Congress should pursue replenishing the Highway Trust Fund with revenues raised through international tax reform that includes “deemed repatriation” of U.S. dollars stranded overseas. This has the added benefit of making U.S.-based companies more competitive. Yet we need a sustainable and dedicated user fee model to continue funding infrastructure projects into the future. This two-pronged funding approach allows us to fund our nation’s infrastructure priorities so we can continue to be competitive, ensure a strong economy and create good middle-class jobs. I request your support for this two-pronged solution to our short-term and long-term highway funding needs.

Sincerely,

­­

Ed Perlmutter

Member of Congress

###

U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter was elected in 2006 and represents Colorado’s 7th Congressional District.  In the 114th Congress, Rep. Perlmutter serves on the House Financial Services and Science, Space and Technology Committees.

f t # e

Stay Connected

Sign up to get Ed's newsletter delivered straight to your inbox.

Upcoming Events

See the upcoming events on Ed's calendar.

No upcoming scheduled events

View More