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Business Owner 'Insanely Frustrated' With Transportation Bill

By Shaun Boyd

DENVER (CBS4) - Maybe no one understands the sorry state of Colorado's roads more than business owners like Jeff Cummings with Duffy Crane and Hauling.

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CBS4's Shaun Boyd interviews Jeff Cummings.(credit: CBS)

He's been lobbying lawmakers for years to increase funding for transportation and is beyond frustrated.

"I would use insanely frustrated," Cummings said.

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(credit: CBS)

Trucks that used to make two deliveries in the metro area a day, he says, now can only get in one. And he's had to double the number of drivers it takes to haul the same amount of goods, as federal regulations restrict how many hours a trucker can be on the road and more and more time is spent in congestion.

"So the cost of everything we buy -- shirts, pants, shoes, clothes and appliances -- is all going up. So it's like a hidden tax," he said.

After years of gridlock on the roads and at the State Capitol, Senate Republicans and Democrats reached a compromise last month that included $500 million for transportation this year.

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(credit: CBS)

A ballot measure is also asking voters to approve a $3 billion bond in November, but House Democrats didn't like the deal and have been working on their own proposal for the last month.

"To have a unanimous vote on that topic, and that much bipartisanship is a big day in this state and it appears to be flushed down toilet in one day. Disappointed," Cummings said.

There is a glimmer of hope. House Democrats introduced an amendment to the bill in committee Wednesday afternoon that lowers the amount of money the Senate bill would bond for transportation from $3 to $2 billion.

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(credit: CBS)

The amendment also puts the bill on the ballot next year and changes how the money would be doled out; 70 percent of it would go to the Colorado Department of Transporation, 15 percent to local government, and 15 percent to alternative transportation.

With the amendment, the bill passed the transportation committee, but still has several hurdles left including consent from the Senate and there are just 5 days left in the session.

Cummings isn't holding his breath.

"The cost will continue to go up. Drive times will continue to go up until voters can put people in office who can get something together that's a long term, well-funded and sustained number."

Shaun Boyd is CBS4's political specialist. She's a veteran reporter with more than 25 years of experience. Follow her on Twitter @cbs4shaun.

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