The Colorado Department of Transportation may spend as much as $150 million for new offices in Denver, Pueblo, and Greeley, Joey Bunch reported in The Denver Post.
However legislators are not happy with the idea. Molly Hughes reported on DPTV that Colorado Senate President Bill Cadman said the proposal is sending the wrong message, that the agency is spending money on itself instead of on public safety.
Maybe the agency needs better work space. But that should be hundreds times less a priority than improving the state’s most important interurban thoroughfare.
Bunch quoted Cadman as saying, “I have a huge concern that they can say ‘no’ to roads, bridges and public safety, and ‘yes’ to bonding for themselves.” There was an unsuccessful bill in the last Senate session that would have authorized $3.5 billion in transportation bonds for 30 construction projects throughout Colorado. The bonds would have been paid back from half of CDOT’s federal gas tax revenues.
Bonds for new CDOT buildings would be repaid from CDOT’s existing facilities budget, Bunch wrote. Under a 1990 law, CDOT and state colleges are exempt from requiring legislative approval to construct or renovate CDOT facilities.
Ford: Funding Is Separate
CDOT Communications Director Amy Ford told Bunch that the issue of bonds for roads and bridges is separate from funding for new CDOT offices. The agency had opposed the $3.5 billion bill because the transportation bonds “came with no new revenue sources,” Ford said. That would have put CDOT in a situation in which it was building new “things without keeping any money in the bank to be able to maintain and operate [them].”
Many of the agency’s buildings were constructed in the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s, and many are used by more people than they were designed to accommodate, Ford said, adding that the facilities have safety challenges as well as flooding issues, and are not in full compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Fixing Highway First Proposed
An editorial in The Gazette said “We’ll take her word for it.” But, it says, Interstate 25 between Colorado Springs and Denver is “dangerous, inefficient and not designed for the capacity at which it is used.” That stretch of highway is often “the scene of fire and life safety issues,” the editorial writes. It exhorts CDOT to first fix I-25, and only then propose new office space.
Someone writing under the name “armoderate” posted a comment to The Denver Post article saying that back in 1976, when he worked in the Denver CDOT office, it was “already old and most of the office space had asbestos.” The commenter, who writes that he eventually changed careers from chief economist to IT work, said:
I’m not a fan of government inefficiencies, but at some point government facilities do need to be replaced.