Colorado Highway 13, pictured, is one of several ongoing projects across the state where progress likely will be ensured by a recently approved $8 billion transfer into the national Highway Trust Fund. It's still uncertain how much money Colorado will receive from the measure. However, the sum likely will be enough to allow CDOT to continue ongoing projects, said Nancy Shanks, CDOT public relations manager for Northwest Colorado.

Photo by Bridget Manley

Colorado Highway 13, pictured, is one of several ongoing projects across the state where progress likely will be ensured by a recently approved $8 billion transfer into the national Highway Trust Fund. It's still uncertain how much money Colorado will receive from the measure. However, the sum likely will be enough to allow CDOT to continue ongoing projects, said Nancy Shanks, CDOT public relations manager for Northwest Colorado.

The $8 billion fix?

Funds from federal legislation could put CDOT funding back on track

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At a glance

• Federal legislation passed this week to put $8 billion in the national Highway Trust Fund.

• Funds will come from the federal government's General Fund.

• Dollar amount allotted to Colorado Department of Transportation is

currently unknown.

• Ongoing projects "presumably" will continue as planned, said Nancy Shanks, CDOT public relations manager for Northwest Colorado.

• Additional funds likely will replace CDOT funds lost from federal and state sources, not fund new projects.

It's a familiar sight on many Colorado roads: crumbling asphalt, disintegrating roadways shoulders and dilapidated bridges.

Gov. Bill Ritter's Transportation Finance and Implementation Panel has called the condition of the state's roads and insufficient funds to fix them a "quiet crisis."

A recently approved measure, though, may help fix the dilemma.

An $8 billion infusion to the national Highway Trust Fund signed Monday by President George W. Bush could ensure current transportation projects stay on track.

It probably won't allow the Colorado Department of Transportation to take on new road improvements, but it could help replace funds the department is projected to lose from state and federal sources.

"It's a fix," said Nancy Shanks, CDOT public relations manager for Northwest Colorado.

As of Wednesday, Shanks couldn't say for sure how much Colorado, much less Moffat County, would receive.

"We do not know yet how much money Colorado's getting," Shanks said, adding that CDOT is waiting for federal officials to begin parceling out the funds.

Still, she estimated the infusion, which would be transferred from the national General Fund into the Highway Trust Fund, "presumably" could keep current road upgrade projects on track. That would include improvements to Colorado Highway 13, which runs south from Wyoming through Moffat County and into Rio Blanco and Garfield counties.

Regional energy development has made maintaining Colorado 13 a priority, CDOT regional transportation director Weldon Allen said last month, adding that such development usually brings wider, heavier loads.

Despite the added funds, Northwest Colorado should not expect new transportation projects to start soon.

"This money that we'll be getting actually just picks us back up to where the level we should be at," Shanks said.

The funds are not really a bonus for CDOT.

"It's just going to allow us to have (existing) projects go forward," she said.

Still, the added dollars could help make up for funding losses at state and federal levels.

During the 2008 fiscal year, CDOT collected about $7.5 million more in fuel taxes than it did the year before, according to department records.

Cash flow from a higher level, though, may not be as promising. CDOT's federal revenue is estimated to drop by $163 million during the 2009 fiscal year.

At the same time, the transportation department won't receive funding from House Bill 1310, which, in good economic times, allots a portion of the bill's revenue to state transportation projects.

Several solutions have been proposed to shore up CDOT's income, including increasing the gas tax and pouring oil and gas severance tax revenue into state transportation projects.

Until then, CDOT will await a final dollar amount from the newly passed legislation.

"We just don't know yet" how much money Colorado will receive or when that figure will be available, Shanks said. "But as soon as we do know, we'll definitely be putting out the word."

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