PPRTA Board approves list of transportation projects
Voters will decide in November whether to help pay for the list of transportation projects approved unanimously Wednesday by the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority board.
Of the 77 projects on the A list, 54 were submitted by the City of Colorado Springs and 15 by El Paso County.
The PPRTA board also unanimously approved preliminary ballot language at the end of its four-and-a-half hour meeting that included a two-and-a-haBob lf hour closed-door executive session.
Voters approved PPRTA in 2004, adding a one-cent sales tax for 10 years to provide revenue for transportation improvements. PPRTA II seeks to extend that one-cent tax until 2024.
“We wanted to be clear that it’s an extension,” said PPRTA chairman Dennis Hisey. “The State Supreme Court said the language should be clear on that.”
Hisey said the ballot language and list of projects could be tweaked before the ballot is certified Sept. 7. He expects final decisions by the Aug. 8 PPRTA meeting.
In Wednesday morning’s Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments board meeting, it was announced that the Colorado Department of Transportation will provide the final $5 million for the $66 million project to widen I-25 to six lanes from Woodmen Road to Monument. Work on the project should begin early in 2013.
PPACG Executive Director Rob MacDonald was designated by the board to pick two PPACG staff members and lead discussions with CDOT staff about how much of the state’s transportation money is being sent to this region.
“We haven’t been getting our share as articulated in the MOU (memorandum of understanding) with CDOT,” MacDonald said. “We interpret it differently than they do.”
After hashing out details about percentages and dollars, MacDonald will report back to the PPACG board, which was indignant that the Mayors Caucus also was negotiating with CDOT over that lost revenue.
“PPACG is the governing body that decides funding,” said board member Wayne Williams.
Manitou Springs Mayor Marc Snyder, part of the Mayors Caucus, said, “A squeaky wheel gets the grease. Two squeaky wheels get more grease.”
MacDonald agreed that the more allies, the better
FREX ignites discussion:
A mundane monthly transit report sparked a spirited exchange between board members of the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority Wednesday on the pros and cons of keeping FREX.
“It wasn’t going to be talked about, but once FREX was mentioned, the floodgates opened,” said PPRTA chairman Dennis Hisey.
PPRTA contributed nearly $800,000 in 2012 for FrontRange Express, the commuter bus service between Colorado Springs and Denver. But Hisey said a decision on future appropriations is not scheduled. FREX should cost just over $2 million to operate this year.
“There’s nothing for us to decide now,” Hisey said. “I’ll bet it’s months, maybe August.”
The FREX contract ends this year and says service may be discontinued at the end of August.
“FREX is an important part of transit in our community,” said Jan Martin of the PPRTA board. “We need to be building a city for the future.”
She was part of the City Council contingent that voted Tuesday to keep FREX running at least through 2012.
Board member Amy Lathen argued the other side.
“People want to keep FREX because it’s a good thing but we can’t afford it. It’s that simple,” Lathen said. “We can’t have everything. People in Falcon ask me for a bus route all the time. I’ll look at transit needs in the county before a commute to Denver every time.”