University of Colorado

A Message from the President

January 2013

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Getting there from here

Getting there from here

I wrote in the July edition of this newsletter about our focus on transportation issues, particularly U.S. 36 between Denver and Boulder. Since the highway first opened in 1952, the volume of traffic has increased to the point where gridlock is more the rule than the exception. I experienced it last week while going to a meeting of 36 Commuting Solutions, a coalition of communities, businesses, statewide transportation groups and entities such as CU. Traffic crawled on the hourlong trip from downtown Denver to the meeting location in Broomfield.

It doesn't take anecdotal experiences to know we have a problem. With some 27,000 employees across the CU system, we are the state's third-largest employer. Add to that our 58,000 students on our campuses, as well as our business partners and visitors, and you can see the stake we have in an effective and efficient transportation system. With an increased focus on collaboration among our faculty, students and partners, it is essential that they can reach one another. While technology helps in those efforts, old-fashioned travel between campuses remains crucial.

The 36 Commuting Solutions group is making good progress in addressing issues. It achieved the important first step of getting all the key stakeholders at the table. We are now working on creative ways to support the Regional Transportation District (RTD) and the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) on the Bus Rapid Transit system (which includes lanes, stops and buses), as well as continuing to explore options for the FasTracks rail line. CDOT is investing more than $400 million in the project, and the coalition is working to secure additional support. Additionally, RTD continues to look for innovative funding solutions.

I am committed to doing everything possible to help solve the issues along U.S. 36. CU has a big stake in a successful outcome, so we will continue working with the coalition.

A similar effort proved successful at our CU Anschutz Medical Campus. The problems on U.S. 36 are critical, but they were even more challenging at CU Anschutz. When we began moving to the campus a decade ago, there were a few thousand people on site. Today there are some 25,000 faculty, staff, students, patients and visitors. That number is projected to double in a decade or so. We worked with stakeholders to help secure funding for widening and expansion of Interstate 225, and a turnkey bid by Kiewit Construction means that the FasTracks rail line though campus (connecting to the Denver International Airport line) will be completed in 2014.

Transportation issues affect all our campuses, including Denver and Colorado Springs. We are an interconnected system that places a premium on collaboration among faculty, students and our external partners. We will continue to focus on effective transportation solutions to support our mission.

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