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Mass transit offers paybacks

By Cathy TuttleSpecial to the Post IndependentAre you trying to save up for that summer vacation and need a few more dollars in your pocket? Employers are now able to offer their employees up to $100 per month in pretax commuting benefits. Through the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21), workers may use the benefit to commute to work on buses or vanpools.A transit pass or bus pass is any pass, token farecard, voucher, or similar item entitling a person, free of charge or at a reduced rate, to ride mass transit, or in a vehicle that seats at least six adults (not including the driver), if it is operated by a person in the business of transporting persons for pay or hire; or subscription bus service operated for or by an employer. An employer cannot provide their employee this benefit in the form of cash reimbursement, if a voucher program is available.A commuter highway vehicle or vanpool is any highway vehicle that seats at least six adults (not including the driver). In addition, employers must reasonably expect that at least 80 percent of the vehicle mileage will be for transporting employees between their homes and work place, with employees occupying at least one-half of the vehicle seats (not including the driver’s). Employers can provide a combination of transit and vanpool benefits to an employee as long as the maximum monthly benefit does not exceed $100.Under federal tax laws, the benefit is available as:-A tax-free, employer-paid benefit of up to $100 a month to the employee, where the employer receives a tax deduction for the expense and saves on payroll-related taxes.-An employee-paid pre-tax benefit, where employers allow employees to set aside up to $100 a month of pre-tax income.-A shared cost arrangement where employers provide a portion of public transportation or vanpooling as a tax-free benefit and allow the employee to set aside pre-tax income to pay for the remaining amount of the benefit (up to the specified limits). Since its inception, the benefit has provided an optimal opportunity to link private and public sector resources to improve the quality of transportation choices. Providing these choices is seen as a major regional tool to confront traffic congestion and urban sprawl.Encouraging more public transportation ridership also helps decrease air pollution and ease traffic congestion, benefits for riders and non-riders alike.Interested employers and employees may obtain more information by requesting a brochure from the APTA Information Center at info@apta.com, or by visiting the APTA website http://www.apta.com.Construction report for Glenwood SpringsReplacement of the sewer line in Laurel Street will continue this week. Laurel Street is expected to be closed to through traffic north of 5th Street. Watch for detours around the construction area.Work will continue this week on replacement of the water main in Highway 6 in West Glenwood between Traver Trail and 135 Road. Construction activity is expected in the section of the project west of Donegan Road. Construction hours will be from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Short delays may be expected as flaggers alternately route one-way traffic through the construction area. A detour will be in place for westbound Donegan Road traffic at the Donegan and Highway 6 intersection.Eighth Street west of Pitkin Avenue will remain closed for reconstruction, as will School Street for 200 feet south of 8th Street. Temporary parking is available on the north side of 7th Street west of the railroad tracks (the old City shop site) and along the railroad tracks west of the new Detention Center (access is from 7th Street on the north side of the Detention Center). Access to the back side of Glenwood Springs Elementary School and the Vogelaar Park ballfield is also available from 7th Street through the area along the railroad tracks.Work will also continue on replacing the water main in North Park Drive between Grand Avenue and Polo Road. Access to local traffic will generally remain available during the construction. Through traffic is encouraged to use other routes.For the week of June 17 the city’s contractor for chip/sealing will be starting, weather permitting. The schedule is as follows: June 17-18, Midland Avenue from Glenwood Park entrance to Sunlight Bridge; June 19, Red Mountain Drive, West 9th, West 10th; Midland Avenue from 8th to West Glenwood Interchange; June 20, Blake Avenue from 7th to 9th; June 21, Cooper Avenue north of Hyland Park Drive to dead end, 13th Street from Grand to Blake, 19th Street from Grand to Blake, 20th Street from Grand to Blake, 21st Street from Blake to Bennett.The day after streets are chipped they will be swept to remove the majority of the loose chips, then five days after the streets are swept they will be fog sealed. Expect single-lane traffic and escort cars on the days when they are chip/sealing or fogging. The hours of work for arterial or collector streets will be from 8:30 a.m .to 4:30 p.m. There could be delays of 15-20 minutes during those hours. If the schedule should change due to weather it will be updated on Channel 12.AT&T Broadband will be installing new cable June 17-18 on 23rd Street by the railroad track. Expect delays. It may be advisable to use 27th Street instead of the 23rd and Grand intersection.Construction report for Highway 82Monday through Friday, from 6:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., down valley traffic will detour from Highway 82 at Gerbaz Way and use Lower River Road for 5.5 miles. Oversize vehicles must wait at the CDOT checkpoint until 3 p.m. Upvalley traffic will use one lane of Highway 82. On Saturdays, traffic stops up to 10 minutes are possible in the upvalley or downvalley lane. More information is available at http://www.sh82.com.Cathy Tuttle is with the transportation team of Kaup/Tuttle, LLC, transportation consultants for the city of Glenwood Springs. For information call 928-6027. Or e-mail to try@ci.glenwood-springs.co.us. This column appears every Monday to explain how each person in our community can make a difference in our quality of life.Transportation Responsibility & You – one day at a time, one trip at a time!


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