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How will president's infrastructure plan affect Colorado?

Trump released more specifics Monday

Reaction to Trump infrastructure plan mixed in Colorado Springs

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - A trillion dollars is a lot of money, but will Colorado get enough of it from the federal government to be useful?

President Trump released more details Monday about his $1.5 trillion plan to upgrade America's infrastructure.

Of that amount, $20 billion would be spent on what Trump called "transformative" projects that "have a vision toward the future" and "lift the American spirit."

For many drivers in southern Colorado, what best fits that description is the proposed widening of the Interstate 25 "Gap" between Monument and Castle Rock.

That $350 million project is currently funded with local and state dollars, except for $65 million in federal money, on which officials are awaiting a decision.

The president's plan, however, intends to change how such projects are funded, shifting a greater burden to local and state governments, which already have tight budgets.

Most major highway projects are funded by an 80 percent-20 percent federal-state split and the president's plan would reverse that percentage.

Critics fear such a change would result only in revenue-generating projects such as toll roads or bridges; part of the I-25 "Gap" widening project includes the possibility of paid express lanes.

El Paso County Commissioner Mark Waller said the president's plan likely won't jeopardize the federal money for which officials applied for the "Gap" project.

"We're already doing what the White House wants us to do," he said.  "We're providing them with a shovel-ready project, and we're using local money to pay for most of our own projects.  We just did that with the interchange project we recently finished at I-25 and Cimarron."

Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers agreed.

"I met with the president at a conference of big-city mayors two weeks ago and he told me about his plan," Suthers said.  "The bad news is we might be at a disadvantage with other states, which have more legislative funding.  But the good news is we can use the money we've spent on expanded paving and stormwater projects as our match for future road and other infrastructure projects."

The president's plan also would commit $200 billion over 10 years to encourage state and local spending and private investment, with half that amount used to motivate cities, counties and states to raise most of the infrastructure costs themselves.

From the $200 billion, $50 billion would be allocated to rural infrastructure needs, while $20 billion would be placed in federal loan programs designed to attract infrastructure investment from the private sector.

According to Trump, the $200 billion wouldn't be new funding, but would consist of revenue eliminated from other segments of the federal budget, such as federally funded transit services.

Many people who spoke with KRDO NewsChannel 13 on Monday oppose Trump's plan.

"If we end up having to pay more because of it, how can we?" said Christina Aragon.  "We're all struggling to get by now.  They're already talking about tolling on I-70 and I-25.  It doesn't make sense."

Waller sides with Aragon.

"I'm in favor of states and local governments paying more for their own projects," he said.  "But I'm not in favor of widening I-25 to three lanes, and making one of them a pay lane.  If you widen it to four lanes, I can go along with that."

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