Fields: Legislators to blame for crumbling roads, not our Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights
July 26, 2019 By Michael Fields
As our state’s roads continue to get worse and worse, Coloradans are wondering when the legislature is finally going to make them a priority.
Earlier this month, a portion of U.S. Highway 36 collapsed, briefly shutting down the main connection between Boulder and Denver. The road was built only a couple of years ago through a public-private partnership – and the estimated cost to fix it is $20 million.
The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) has direct oversight over these road projects, and the legislature has direct oversight over CDOT.
So, it’s worthwhile to look both at CDOT’s performance, and how much focus (or lack of focus) the legislature has been putting on fixing our roads.
A newly released state performance audit looked at CDOT from 2016-17 – and the findings are quite alarming. CDOT spent 37% – $582.7 million – more than its approved budget for 2016-17. In the real world, most of us would get fired from our jobs if we overspent our budgets by 37%.
But that wasn’t CDOT’s only problem. The agency did not properly track how $1.3 billion was spent. While not finding any blatant fraud, the audit did say there was “suspicious patterns and anomalies.”
This was happening around the same time that CDOT decided to build new offices for itself, costing taxpayers $150 million. With tone-deaf decisions like these, it’s no wonder why taxpayers continually shoot down statewide tax increases.