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    Flyover on short list of TABOR projects

    BY Alisha Jeter
    05/25/2005
    by Alisha Jeter on 5/25/05.

    A new flyover at the Wadsworth interchange could be fully paid for if voters give the OK.

    Referendum C on the November ballot would allow the state to keep Taxpayers' Bill of Rights refunds and in turn funnel the money to a long list of road projects, including a revamp of the busy roadway in Broomfield. Officials say the flyover could redirect about half the interchange's daily traffic of 60,000 to 70,000 cars.

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    Referendum C will ask voters to allow the state to keep about $3.1 billion over five years in TABOR refunds to taxpayers. A related measure, Referendum D, would allow the Colorado Department of Transportation to issue about $1.2 billion in bonds that would include the $70 million flyover, meant to connect Colo. 128 to 120th Avenue, said department spokeswoman Stacey Stegman. The bonds would be backed by the state general fund, which would be pumped up by the TABOR refund money, Stegman said.

    About $504 million would go to projects in the seven-county Denver metro area that includes Broomfield.

    Beth Skinner, state campaign director against Referendum C, isn't sure the money would go where promised, however.

    "They need to work very hard to sell this whole thing — Referendums C and D — and a very good way to do that is sell people new roads," said Skinner, also a Broomfield resident and senior fellow with the conservative think tank Independence Institute. "There's no Constitutional mandate to fix roads (with the money)."

    The bonds are attractive for the city, which has spent more than a decade lobbying for funding for the $190 million interchange project, said City and County Manager George Di Ciero. The flyover piece is phase I of overall reconstruction.

    "This is the most viable alternative we've seen since we've been working on this," Di Ciero said of the funding possibility.

    The flyover appears on a working list of metro-area projects to receive the redirected money. The Denver Regional Council of Governments discussed the list last week, electing to keep the flyover in place, said DRCOG transportation staffer Steve Cook.

    "We're trying to be very definitive in the scope of the projects and cost so voters know what they're voting for," CDOT's Stegman said. "That's why the list is still changing."

    Work is continuing among cities, DRCOG and CDOT to gel the scope of each of the projects and determine which ones are ready to go forward.

    The final list is scheduled for consideration by state transportation commissioners on June 16, Stegman said.

    "We feel the flyover is very well-positioned to stay on that list," said Kevin Standbridge, Broomfield assistant city and county manager for Community Development.

    It's a good sign the flyover claimed a spot on the draft, Cook said.

    "That one is pretty well-defined compared with some of the other projects," he said, citing the flyover's nearly complete environmental studies. "Obviously the first step is to finalize the list, and then it has to go to the voters."

    Other listed projects include a $15 million bridge reconstruction at Interstate 270 and Interstate 76, a $60 million reconstruction and widening at Colo. 121 and U.S. 6, and several repairs to Interstates 25 and 70.