Colorado DOT proposes new pollution reduction planning standards

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The Colorado Transportation Commission (CODOT) announced Monday that it is proposing new pollution reduction planning standards to reduce pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, improve air quality, reduce smog and provide more travel options for Coloradans.

The commission said the proposal would shape how state and local governments make plans for future projects while making sure Coloradans have more travel options and that infrastructure helps fight climate change.

The proposed rule would focus on transportation planning, the commission said, and would require CODOT and the state’s five Metropolitan Planning Organizations to determine the total pollution and greenhouse gas emission levels from future transportation projects and take steps to ensure emission levels don’t exceed set reduction amounts.

The new approach would streamline planning and delivery of innovations that have previously proven successful in improving air quality, like adding sidewalks, improving local and intercity transit and first- and last-mile connectivity to transit facilities, and adding bike shares.

“Between the recent smoke-filled air and the extreme weather that caused devastating mudslides in Glenwood Canyon, Colorado has received powerful reminders of the importance of taking bold climate action as it continues to threaten our economy and Colorado way of life,” said Colorado Gov. Jared Polis. “Transportation is our largest source of air pollutants, and this standard will help ensure that Coloradans have every possible ability to make a difference.”

The proposed rule comes after months of outreach by the CODOT to residents for feedback. It works with groups from metropolitan planning organizations to environmental groups to contractors to local governments. The department convened a Greenhouse Gas Advisory Group of transportation stakeholders to inform the standard, the CODOT said, holding 11 public regional meetings, five listening sessions, and held or presented at over 60 smaller meetings.

“What we build matters. It matters for safety, for our economy, for resiliency, and for our ability to reduce air pollution and improve the quality of places where Coloradans across the state live and thrive,” said Shoshana Lew, executive director of the Colorado Department of Transportation. “From smoke-filled air to a confluence of fire and 500-year flooding in Glenwood Canyon, we are reminded that we have no time to waste in fighting climate change in the transportation sector, and this policy will be an important step. This draft standard wouldn’t be possible without the hundreds of hours of input we’ve received over the last few months, and I look forward to hearing from all stakeholders on this draft.”

The draft of the standard will be published and then subject to a 60-day review period, during which time the CODOT will host public hearings across the state, in-person and online. Stakeholders can also submit written comments to the department during the 60-day review period.