Traffic safety and the state's economy suffer because of a 17-mile narrow gap of the I-25 freeway that links Denver and Colorado Springs, the state's two largest cities. Voting "yes" on El Paso County measure 1A could help solve the problem.
The narrow four-lane gap between Monument and Castle Rock is known as a parking lot, as high-speed freeway traffic suddenly and dangerously comes to a halt routinely throughout the day. Weekend traffic has become so congested people decline trips from one metro area to the other. Tourism suffers throughout the Pikes Peak region, and as far south as the Pueblo Reservoir, as people choose to avoid the traffic. Lives are endangered by cars traveling too close together. Emergency vehicles get mired in traffic.
Potential employers and residents considering homes in Colorado Springs are dissuaded by the traffic snarl between here and Denver.
Measure 1A would not raise taxes or fees but would authorize county government to keep $14.6 million in excess 2016 revenues that will otherwise be returned to taxpayers by as a requirement of the Colorado Constitution's Taxpayer's Bill of Rights. If voters allow retention of the refund, county officials will use it to match state and federal funds to widen I-25. The measure would also designate funds for disaster recovery, parks, trails and open space. The tax refunds are estimated at about $40 for homes valued at $250,000.
The opportunity to kick in local contributions toward fixing I-25 comes just on the heels of an encouraging announcement last week by the Colorado Department of Transportation. The agency will free up $250 million in additional funds to help accelerate the anticipated widening project.
More capacity between Denver and Colorado Springs is decades overdue. A reasonable local contribution will go a long way toward getting this project done soon, enhancing local housing values, improving public safety and growing the economy.
Vote "yes" on 1A.
The Gazette editorial board