Colorado has a problem. “The Centennial state grew by nearly 80,000 people last year, making it the seventh fastest-growing state in the country, according to new data released by the U.S. Census Bureau,” reported the Denver Post in 2018. Colorado continues to experience growth due to the state’s natural beauty, growing economy, and job opportunities. But with growth comes growing pains, and Colorado and Colorado Springs, in particular, are going to have to hustle in order to provide the infrastructure to meet the needs of their residents.
Below, a Colorado Springs construction lawyer discusses Colorado’s infrastructure challenges and what construction companies can expect in the coming years. If your company is ever in need while working on one of Colorado’s ongoing infrastructure projects, know that a Colorado Springs construction attorney with Cotney Construction Law is able to assist with any and all of your legal needs.
A Struggling Infrastructure
As of the time of this writing, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) has given Colorado’s infrastructure a grade of C+. This applies to numerous fundamental systems, not just roadways and bridges. Colorado State Senator and Senate Transportation and Energy Committee Chair Faith Winters was quoted as saying, “With our rapidly growing population, we must ensure our roads, transit networks, water systems, levees, schools and more are equipped with adequate funding and maintenance.” As a Colorado Springs construction law firm, we couldn’t agree more with Senator Winters. But while everyone can agree that something must be done about Colorado’s strained infrastructure systems, no one can agree on how to fund it.
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In November 2018, two ballot measures aimed to boost the state’s transportation budget. Proposition 109 would have allowed $3.5 billion to be borrowed and allocated to 66 projects, while Proposition 110 would have raised over $750 million in its first year through a 0.62 percent sales tax hike. Unfortunately, both measures failed to pass. It would also be possible to raise the state’s gas tax, which has not been raised since 1991. However, fuel-efficient cars, inflation, and a growing population mean that a gas tax hike wouldn’t make a dent in the Colorado Department of Transportation’s (CDOT’s) funding gap.
The Growing Funding Gap
How bad is the funding gap? As the Colorado Springs Independent reports, former Colorado Transportation Commissioner for District 9 Rocky Scott believes that there are over $15 billion in backlogged projects across the state. The funds needed for El Paso County, where Colorado Springs is located? $2.4 billion. “What terrifies me,” said Scott, “to be honest … I believe we are past the point of no return in El Paso County.” Even if El Paso was able to find funding for needed projects, it would likely be too little too late. “We couldn’t avoid solid gridlock on Powers Boulevard,” Scott concluded. Consult a Colorado Springs construction attorney if your company ever encounters a dispute as a result of lost funding.
Horizontal Infrastructure in Colorado Springs
As reported by the Denver Post in 2019, “El Paso County — home to Colorado Springs — continued to outpace Denver’s growth, in both numerical and percentage terms, for the third year running.” Unlike Denver, Colorado Springs isn’t restricted by surrounding cities, allowing the city to grow and sprawl as needed. This has resulted in an increase in traffic on the periphery of the city and is leading to a real infrastructure challenge that only construction companies will be able to address.
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Colorado residents know that Powers Boulevard, U.S. 24, and I-25 are all areas that are suffering from congestion, which is hindering emergency vehicles, the local economy, and residents’ quality of life. U.S. 24 is currently undergoing resurfacing and structural improvements that include:
- Extending the turn lane at 21st Street
- Replacing Guardrails
- Improving drainage
The construction crews working on this project will face a number of issues, including the hazards that come with working after dark and in the vicinity of speeding traffic (for assistance keeping your workers safe on infrastructure projects, consult a Colorado Springs contractor lawyer). And while this project has received funding, it may not be enough.
As reported by the Colorado Springs Independent, this project would have benefited from additional funding that would have provided for freeway-style ramps. Karen Rowe, CDOT’s director for Region 2, agrees that that interchange would be ideal but confirms that the budget did not allow for it. “CDOT never thought that newer intersection at Eighth Street, U.S. 24 and I-25 was the very best choice. But it was the very best choice within the budget.”
What Construction Companies Can Expect
The construction industry can stop the infrastructure crisis but only if they are given the funding and resources to thrive. It’s a shame that construction companies aren’t permitted to work on the improvements that communities desperately need. Due to Colorado’s funding gap, the burden will be on local communities to pay for improvements on state roads. Alternatively, communities will turn to public-private partnerships in order to see these projects through to completion.
Contractors operating out of Colorado can expect to face an assortment of issues as a result of a lack of funding, including expensive delays that can cost construction companies millions of dollars. At that point, litigation is almost unavoidable. In order to avoid delays, disputes, and other challenges that threaten the success of your company, partner with a Colorado Springs construction litigation attorney. And for or any questions or concerns regarding Colorado Springs construction law, turn to the attorneys at Cotney Construction Law, a team dedicated solely to the construction industry.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.