CDOT Testimony for House Bill 1199

March 4, 2019

Good afternoon. My name is Shoshana Lew and I am the Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Transportation. I am here today to testify to CDOT’s support of House Bill 1199. We have provided extensive technical assistance to this bill and its amendments. I would like to speak to a few issues in particular, which include: support for this bill as a means to strengthen consumer acceptance of affordable electric vehicles; measures to preserve market based pricing to reduce congestion; and, safeguards to protect the credit structure for transportation projects.

Strengthening Consumer Acceptance of Affordable Electric Vehicles 

Governor Polis set an ambitious agenda with respect to deploying zero emission vehicle technology and making our transportation network cleaner and more efficient, and building on a record of success and early adoption in our state.  Already, Colorado ranks fifth in the nation in terms of electric vehicle adoption — with some of the most forward-leaning incentives available, including a $5000 tax assignable credit.  But scaling ZEV deployment will require an “all of the above” approach to this issue, with a suite of complementary policies that include pursuing zero emission vehicle standards to ensure supply, consumer incentives to induce ZEV demand, investments in charging infrastructure to facilitate easier utilization and reduce range anxiety, as well as creative partnerships with both the public and private sector to help grow the ZEV market in Colorado quickly and aggressively. This bill fits into that framework.

Measures to Preserve Market Based Pricing

While this bill reduces the cost of using managed lanes for drivers of ZEVs, it importantly protects the market structure that continues to make Colorado’s managed lanes successful. The High Performance Transportation Enterprise (HPTE) currently has 68 lane miles of Express Lanes in operation and 142 lane miles of Express Lanes under construction or in development. The benefits of these lane miles are multi fold: 

  • They pay for and create additional capacity for Coloradans in areas where it is much needed;
  • They provide an efficient travel option when drivers need it most while also reducing pressure on other lane miles; and
  • They provide a platform for fast, bus-based public transit, and they allow for market-driven management of congestion on the road — and we know congestion creates air pollution. 

While ZEVs improve mobile-source air pollution and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the reality is that there is “no free lunch”, and just like any other car they contribute to congestion on our roadways. So, preserving congestion tolls for ZEVs, albeit at a temporarily reduced rate, is still important, and can incentivize energy-saving efficiencies like carpooling and ridesharing.

Safeguards to Protect the Credit Structure for Transportation Projects 

Financing for Colorado’s managed lane system is predicated on certain revenue assumptions that underlie HPTE’s loans and public private partnership agreements. While these arrangements and their risk-allocation structures are configured across projects, the ability to pay back all loans — or to pay the private partners who took out loans on behalf of Colorado’s transportation infrastructure development — is ultimately dependent on those toll revenues coming to fruition. It is imperative that this bill include the safeguards to protect the financial integrity of Colorado projects in the event that this incentive threatens to reduce revenue collection at levels that could compromise future funding or current financing. We appreciate the willingness of the Sponsor to address this concern in the bill.

In sum, CDOT believes that this bill takes a careful approach towards balancing policy objectives and managing risk. We appreciate the cooperation with the sponsor and echo the administration in support for the bill, as amended.

Thank you, Madam Chair, and I’m happy to answer any questions.