Transportation bonding bill moving through Colorado Legislature

Photo: I-25 near downtown Denver (AP Photo)
Traffic comes to a standstill along Interstate 25 Friday, Feb. 20, 2015, in downtown Denver.

Colorado voters could be asked to approve $3.5 billion in transportation bonds, under a bill moving through the state Legislature. The measure passed its first committee on a party-line vote Thursday.

The bonds would replace a similar debt package that matures in two years. Proponents, like Weld County Commissioner Sean Conway, say this could help the state meet its transportation priorities.

"Let’s not miss this opportunity," Conway said. "We have historic low interest rates. We can lock this in, we can do these major projects. And at the end of the day, it’s really up to the voters."

But the Colorado Department of Transportation says once interest payments end on current bonds, it may not have the funds to cover the new interest and fulfill other obligations, like snow plowing and deferred road repairs.

"It’s the bread and butter of what CDOT does right now in keeping our existing infrastructure up to date," said Andy Karsian, CDOT's state legislative liaison.

The transportation bond referendum passed its Republican-controlled Senate committee on a party-line vote. Democrats expressed concern that such a major proposal is coming so late in the session.