Cost Estimates for the 2040 MTCP
Planning Level Cost Estimates
Table 5-1 summarizes the planning level cost estimates for implementing the improvements in the 2040 MTCP Roadway Plan. Costs and revenues are reported for 30 years of roadway improvements (2011 to 2040) in constant year 2010 dollars.
It should be noted that these cost estimates are based on planning level costs that typically include all roadway improvement cost components. These planning level costs are based on actual final roadway improvement costs. They generally include utility relocations, contingencies, contractor profit, and 50% public purchase of right-of-way. The unit costs were developed and refined over several years based on final bid prices for similar improvements in the County and across Colorado and the western United States. They could be thought of as “top-down” unit costs.
Planning level costs are primarily used as a reference point and for comparison to other transportation plans. They are only realistic if all of the improvements in the 2040 MTCP roadway plan were constructed through an open-bid process and if the Fee Program were based on MTCP unit costs and not the Fee Program unit costs. In the County, this is not necessarily the case as there are many projects that are constructed directly by land developers through subdivision improvement agreements with the County. Furthermore, the fees paid by developers are based on a different set of unit costs (see next section).
Fee Program Cost Estimates
The Fee Program cost estimates shown in Table 5-2 contain the same roadway improvements as the Planning Level cost estimates. The two scenarios differ in the unit costs that are applied. For the Fee Program, the unit costs were developed based on a quantity takeoff method that could be described as “bottom up” calculated. These assume that a developer constructs the road improvement rather than letting through a competitive bid process.
The Fee Program unit costs include many roadway improvement cost components but exclude certain others. Issues with roadway construction (e.g., undulating/rolling terrain, utilities, drainage issues, poor soils, etc.) that can significantly raise costs are generally borne by the contractor/developer as part of subdivision improvement investments and not included in the Fee Program unit costs. This was done so that increased costs due to lower-cost land with higher-cost roadway improvements would be picked up by the benefitting land owner/developer and not spread to other developers or the public. This is a primary reason why the Fee Program unit costs are lower than the Planning Level unit costs.
The Fee Program cost scenario is generally realistic in that it provides ranges of funding exposure based on the Fee Program unit costs, but it assumes that all of the growth-related improvements are constructed by developers.
What This All Means
Two different cost estimates are provided above – Planning Level and Fee Program costs. The Planning Level costs assume that all improvements will be let through competitive bid by the County. The Fee Program costs assume that all of the growth-related improvements will be constructed by developers. In reality, improvements will likely be made through both methods. Therefore, the Planning Level costs could be considered the high end of the cost estimate and the Fee Program costs could be considered the low end. As shown in Table 5-3, these provide a range of costs and potential financial exposure to the developers, County, CDOT, etc.
Some observations on the cost estimates in Table 5-3:
- The developer-funded Countywide Roadway Improvement Fee Program will pay for a significant portion ($256 million) of new off-system (i.e., non-CDOT) roadway capacity over the next 30 years in unincorporated El Paso County.
- The CDOT improvement cost responsibility for their on-system highway network is $217 million over the next 30 years in unincorporated El Paso County. The growth-related portion of this is about $91 million. Although these are generally thought of as CDOT’s responsibilities, it is possible that some of the on-system CDOT highway improvements will be funded through developer contributions given the ongoing CDOT funding shortfalls.
- El Paso County’s share of the costs is at least $17 million for off-system (i.e., non-CDOT) roadway improvements in unincorporated areas of the County over the next 30 years. However, depending on how much of the system is constructed by developers and let to bid by the County, the County’s financial responsibility could include an additional $102 million. Similar to the CDOT on-system improvements, the El Paso County roadway improvement costs are not yet fully funded. The Road and Bridge Tax pays for some of these costs, but will not cover all of them. Extension of the PPRTA capital construction components could cover some as well, but again, some projects would remain unfunded. Local funding options are discussed in a subsequent section of this chapter.
Local Funding Options
The Citizen’s Working Group reviewed several local funding options to raise money for the roadway improvements in the 2040 MTCP. The following options are those that the Group recommended for consideration by the public and Board of County Commissioners.
Note: This report attempts to present facts and figures for consideration by the public and decision-makers on funding for the County’s transportation system. It is not intended to promote specific funding options or suggest that any additional funding mechanisms be adopted.