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Colorado: Budget juggling to speed highway projects

New accounting system doesn’t solve state’s long-term transportation woes

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Highway projects in Colorado will get a boost from a new budgeting regime.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Colorado transportation officials say they will juggle their budgets to accelerate completion of transportation projects and create or sustain more than 10,500 jobs over five years.

Currently, CDOT does not advertise a project until all of the money is “in the bank,” which means the department is saving money for projects over multiple years before construction begins. In addition, some projects take several years to construct, so money often sits unspent when it could be used much sooner.

Under the new program, CDOT will fund multi-year projects based on year of expenditure, rather than saving for the full amount of a project before construction begins. This effort will match project expenditures with available revenues and allow CDOT to allocate an additional $300 million per year over five years to transportation projects over the next five years.

“Efficient and effective use of public money is at the core of this effort,” said Gov. John Hickenlooper. “This change in fiscal management will allow CDOT to make improvements to the state’s transportation system and give the construction industry a needed boost. The program doesn’t solve the state’s long-term transportation needs, but it does accelerate many projects that might otherwise have had to sit longer.”

The projects funded under the new program will be in addition to CDOT’s previously planned construction program. Criteria for choosing the additional projects will be developed by the Colorado Transportation Commission in the coming weeks.

“This is a more efficient and effective means of project delivery and good way to get more people back to work,” said CDOT director Don Hunt. “We have more certainty in federal funding than we have had in the last four years and feel comfortable joining other states in this kind of transportation budgeting and planning.”

CDOT will begin implementing the budgeting and planning program in early 2013 and will continue to move forward with its planned construction program.

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