By Jamie Leary
DENVER (CBS4) - For the first time ever, Colorado marijuana lovers are helping fund maintenance to Denver's infrastructure, specifically when it comes to street paving.
"Today we are kicking off the street paving season!" announced Nancy Khun, Communications Director for Denver Public Works at a news conference Wednesday.
When paving season begins, it's not unusual for the city to host a news conference, but it is unusual for the city to have an extra $1 million to spend.
"We are using $1.2 million in 2018 from our marijuana revenue to help increase the number of lane miles we're going to pave in the City of Denver," said Denver Mayor Michael Hancock said. "So, 450 lane miles throughout the City of Denver will be paved this summer primarily arterial and collectors."
There are 11 districts on the list of repairs. In May, the paving program will focus on improving 85 blocks in Downtown Denver's Business district. It's an area the city says hasn't been paved since 2003.
"We always said we'll use the revenue to enhance the quality of life for the people that live here, and I got to tell you, improving these road conditions is certainly a step in that direction," Hancock said.
The $1.2 million comes from more than $13 million in annual marijuana tax revenue for Denver. While helpful, it is only a one-time investment for the city's paving needs.
"We're up to $13-14 million a year in marijuana tax revenue coming into the City of Denver and a lot of that goes towards supporting the regulatory framework and enforcement of our policies," Hancock said. "What we have left over we have committed to the education of our children, so we do invest through the office of children's affairs. [Additionally] Summer camps, education and campaigns about marijuana in the city of Denver."
Hancock went on to say, "And thirdly, we take the rest of that and begin to deploy through our general fund of various one-time efforts."
This week, crews with DPW began milling East 8th Avenue from York to Franklin Streets in the Cheesman Park neighborhood. On Thursday, work was already causing delays in the area, but the city encouraged drivers to focus on the end result.
"This is the first year that we're receiving marijuana tax revenue for street paving and with it we are able to pave about 50 more blocks of streets so we are grateful for the extra resources this year that are going to go to improving some of our larger streets," said Kuhn.
Jamie Leary joined the CBS4 team in 2015 and currently works as a reporter for CBS4 News at 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. She couldn't imagine a better place to live and work and will stop at nothing to find the next great story. Jamie loves learning about and hearing from her fellow community members, so connect with her on Facebook or Twitter @JamieALeary.
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