Colorado Springs, CO— Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter says he will make transportation issues his top priority in 2009.
"Transportation is fundamental to economic development," Ritter told a meeting of the Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce Sept. 22. "When we're talking about companies coming here or even companies growing, the conversation comes back to two things: education and transportation."
The governor told his chamber audience that there are 126 "structurally deficient" bridges in the state, up by 10 from 2007, and that "over 20 percent of our roads need to be completely reconstructed."
A combination of rising construction costs and the revenue and spending restrictions imposed by the Taxpayers Bill of Rights, he added, means the state's "construction buying power is 40 percent of what it was in 1992," the year TABOR went into effect.
"We do have to think differently about transportation funding," Ritter said. "Problem is, if you ask Coloradans, they don't think we have a problem, or a very serious problem."
Ritter will present his 2009 budget proposal on Nov. 3.