New Denver Mayor Michael Hancock went on 850KOA this morning and announced his undying love for Fastracks. This is not a good sign for how Hancock intends on utilizing government to improve life for the citizens of Denver and its environs. It's a sign that, despite the glaring failure that is Fastracks, Hancock thinks government can fix all, if given enough time and tax dollars.
Nothing defines the inefficiency and bone headedness of government more than Fastracks.
The program began in 2004 after voters approved a .4% sales tax hike. It was supposed to be completed between 2013 and 2106. After endless cost overruns, eminent domain lawsuits, and an overall bungled effort, a Regional Transportation District (RTD) spokeswoman recently told Channel 7 that it could be 2042 before the project is completed.
The project is so woefully underfunded and over budget that a $1 billion grant from the Federal Transit Authority recently received by RTD still leaves the project $2 billion shy of its cost. Originally projected to cost $4.7 billion, the current projections are $6.8 billion. With government in charge, don't be surprised to watch those costs continue to climb.
The only way RTD sees out of this fiscal calamity is…you guessed it…tax hike. To complete the project by 2020, the RTD spokeswoman told Channel 7 they would need another tax hike in 2012.
Based on Rollie Heath's track record with his tax hike, we aren't sure tax hike initiatives are the most popular option right now. With unemployment ticking up to 9.2% nationally last month, and the country still mired in the Great Recession, voters are not interested in giving more of their hard earned money to the government, especially for the mess that is Fastracks.
While Hancock has thrown his support behind this big boondoggle, he has shown some basic understanding of how not to do things, refusing to support the nine paid sick day requirement for businesses that is set to be on the ballot this November in Denver. But the fact that he still believes in the fallacy of Fastracks, like kids holding onto the idea of Never-Never Land, is an ominous warning to those who hoped Hancock would govern smartly.
Just as the Big Dig in Boston was the bane of every major Massachusetts politician's existence, Fastracks has the ability to ensnare Centennial State politicians in a mess that will take down their careers. We hope Hancock looks to the Big Dig and sees the political albatross he is hanging around his neck with Fastracks, and reconsiders his support in light of the facts on the ground, not the fiction from lovers of big government projects.