Printed letters, March 17, 2010
CDOT process ignores critical highway needs
How ironic. Rio Blanco County was recently denied $9 million in energy impact funds for improvements to County Road 5, the Piceance Creek road that is the only all-weather public road providing access to two major natural gas refineries and the dozens of gas wells in the Piceance Basin.
The last time this road had any major improvement was about 30 years ago, when it was resurfaced using impact funds during oil shale development. It remains today a narrow, crooked, dangerous road used by large trucks, heavy equipment and workers commuting to Rifle, Meeker, and Rangely. No other county road has suffered the impact of energy development as much as County Road 5.
Here is the irony:
Colorado Department of Transportation recently awarded an $8.8 million contract for building four roundabouts in the Edwards area, paid for from “stimulus” (our) money. Two of these roundabouts are at county road connections, two at the Edwards interchange with I-70. All the roundabouts will accomplish is to make it slightly more convenient to clear intersections. Public safety is not an issue. The truly dangerous intersection of County Road 5 and State Highway 13 at Rio Blanco is ignored.
How can priorities be so screwed up? Back when highways in Colorado were the responsibility of the State Highway Department, highway commissioners would hold public meetings around the state, where delegates from cities, counties and organizations like Club 20 would plead for projects in their areas. Then district engineers would recommend projects supporting, in some cases, those requests, but keeping the big picture of districtwide needs in mind.
But along came the Department of Transportation and more politically correct thinking. Locals were to be given a stronger voice in selection of improvements.
When I questioned the reason for funding roundabouts at Edwards last year, I was told that locals in Eagle had put this project as their No. 1 priority and, therefore, it deserved the funding.
CDOT is locked into a “process” that ignores actual needs. Until that system is changed, we can expect more misuse of our money. The Colorado Department of Transportation needs to restore authority for choosing projects to regional directors and Denver staff, with consideration of local requests, but keeping in mind the “big picture” of regional needs.
Retired District Engineer
Some better ideas for health reform
Here are some questions for Sens. Michael Bennet and Mark Udall, and Congressman John Salazar:
If you say you can stop fraud and cut costs in Medicare and Medicaid, then why have you not already done this?
If you have had math, then why can you not understand that you cannot cover everyone with pre-existing conditions and cover 20 million to 30 million more who do not presently have insurance, all for less money?
Why do you think we want gigantic cuts in Medicare coverage?
My suggestions on what to do, as we do need to make some changes, are as follows:
✓ Allow people to buy health insurance anywhere in the United States. Our free market system will take care of giving you the best coverage for the best price.
✓ Create a division of the FBI to eliminate fraud in Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.
✓ Establish limits for tort reform that are fair for both doctors and patients. (No lawyers would be allowed to make this decision.) The enormous cost of lawsuits are skyrocketing the costs of health insurance and medical liability.
✓ Ensure that pre-existing conditions will not disqualify people from getting insurance and they will pay the same rate as others.
✓ Require people to be a citizen of the United States to get health insurance.
✓ Prohibit abortion from being covered under health insurance. If you want to murder your fetus or your own baby, do it at your own cost.
✓ Don’t make everyone buy health insurance, as that requirement is against our Constitution.
✓ Try the above rules for one year. If there is a surplus to cover all the uninsured, then allow them to get health insurance. If there is not, then start over to make improvements. We must not jump into this enormous problem without deleting our deficit first.
BERTIE (BINGAMAN) DEERING