DENVER (KDVR) — Beginning in 2022, all transportation projects around Colorado will have to comply with a new greenhouse gas rule.
This comes after a 10-1 vote by the Colorado Transportation Commission that approved the new rule. The new rule means no upcoming project for roads around the state can be approved without first considering its impact on the climate.
The Colorado Department of Transportation said Colorado is the first state in the country to approve a greenhouse gas pollution standard rule for road projects.
“Transportation is the number one source of greenhouse gas pollution. The urgency of tackling climate action is real and inaction is not an option as we confront the reality of extreme events like devastating wildfires floods, and droughts becoming more frequent and air that is dangerous to breathe becoming the norm,” CDOT Executive Director Shoshana Lew said, in part, in a statement.
The state is also set to receive millions in federal funds from the recently passed infrastructure bill. U.S. Rep Joe Neguse, D-Boulder, said Colorado will receive $700 million to improve its transportation system roads and highways.
A CDOT spokesperson told FOX31 this latest investment from Washington will only amount to just 20-25% more of what the state normally receives from the federal government.
The Denver Streets Partnership is lobbying the state to put funds toward projects that are climate-conscious and can move people around who may not drive a vehicle.
“We also need to be planning our communities in a way that facilitates moving people and not just moving cars,” Molly McKinley, of Denver Streets Partnership, said.
“What we’re really trying to do is stop bad stuff, like highway expansion, and do more of good stuff, like increasing public transit,” McKinley said.
How could Colorado’s transportation be more climate-conscious?
McKinley and the Denver Streets Partnership said there are three things Colorado can do to successfully comply with the new rule and build better transportation infrastructure.
The first is using federal dollars for public transit.
“If we’re going to meet the needs of a growing state, increase access to opportunities for low-income Coloradans and reduce our impact on the climate, we have to be funding public transit,” McKinley said.
The next would be to fix old roads instead of building new ones.
“We need to ensure that our existing infrastructure is safe for people, regardless of their choice of transportation,” McKinley said. “Spending money on new infrastructure while bridges remain under questionable state of repair seems irresponsible.”
The last is to capitalize on more funding from Washington alongside the new greenhouse gas rule.
“We think leaders should consider opportunities at a state level, like providing consistent operating funding for transit agencies,” McKinley said.