CDOT to send $82 million to West Slope projects
The Western Slope should reap immediate benefits from the state’s $2 billion share of the federal economic stimulus package, according to the state’s top transportation official.
Colorado Department of Transportation executive director Russell George, speaking Wednesday to the Downtown Grand Junction Rotary Club, said more than $400 million of those funds are going directly to transportation.
Of that, $300 million will be managed by the CDOT, and the rest will go to local governments.
“We’ll see a good construction season this year for transportation,” George said.
The federal package requires 50 percent of the money be committed to projects within 120 days.
“You’ll see projects starting right away,” George said, adding that the list of projects has been chosen and should be put out to bid in a couple of weeks.
However, Colorado’s roads need more help than there is money to fix them, cautioned retired banker Doug Aden of Grand Junction, a member of the state Transportation Commission.
“We need to spend $1.5 billion a year for the next 30 years to address our transportation needs,” said Aden, who participated on the state’s Transportation, Finance and Implementation Panel.
Most of that money is expected to come from the newly enacted increase in vehicle registrations. After the three-year, phase-in period that begins July 1, the average cost to register a car in Colorado is expected to rise $41.
Aden said $500 million will earmarked for the panel’s “Fix It First” option, targeting the most-dire needs. That includes repairing or replacing 125 structurally deficient bridges across Colorado, Aden said.
“It’s a significant step forward, but it’s just that, only a first step,” he said of the increased funding.
Region 7, which includes most of the Western Slope north of Montrose and east to the Continental Divide, will receive about $50 million in stimulus funds, George said. Region 5, the southwest part of the state, will receive about $32 million.
“Transportation is the foundation of our society,” George said. “Investing in transportation infrastructure is one of the very best remedies against recessionary collapse.”
An updated list of proposed projects statewide is available at http://www.dot.state.co.us.