Gov. Bill Ritter Jr. and legislative leaders hope to ease Colorado’s transportation funding crisis with a program dubbed FASTER, for Funding Advancement for Surface Transportation Economic Recovery.

To pay for road and bridge projects, the program would increase funding by $250 million and would issue bonds by imposing a new surcharge on annual vehicle registrations ranging from $29 to $71 based on weight. A $2 daily fee would also be levied on rental cars.

Sen. Dan Gibbs, D-Silverthorne, and Rep. Joe Rice, D-Littleton, plan to introduce a bill creating the program. A draft of the bill calls for raising about $250 million to create a revenue stream backing the bonds.

FASTER would create a High-Performance Transportation Enterprise within the Colorado Department of Transportation to consider other means of raising money, including public-private partnerships and adding tolls on roads and bridges. A mileage-based revenue commission would consider how to charge fees for the number of miles a vehicle travels.

The plan is an outgrowth of a transportation summit that Ritter convened in 2007 to provide solutions for the state’s funding crisis. Although a report recommended higher fees to raise revenue, the plan was not included in the 2008 session of the General Assembly. Higher fees and potentially higher gas taxes were considered non-starters in an election year.

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