Colorado DOT’s Bhatt Tells TTV How Federal Uncertainty Weighs on State Planning

AASHTO Journal, 19 June 2015

In the latest “2-Minute Update” on state agencies from AASHTO’s Transportation TV, Colorado Department of Transportation Executive Director Shailen Bhatt says his department depends on $500 million annually from the federal highway program to pay for road and bridge improvements.

But Bhatt is concerned about the inability of Congress to pass a long-term transportation bill in recent years.

He said the Colorado DOT already faces an annual shortfall of about $1 billion in terms of projects needed versus its current funding levels. “So you think about it,” he said. “If we’re already short a billion, and now the $500 million is in question in terms of timing and whether we’re going to get it and how we’re going to get it – I mean, to me it just adds uncertainty, and uncertainty is never a positive thing to have.”

He said his agency works with federal partners, and with the state’s congressional delegation to press its concerns. “I think they get it,” Bhatt said of the lawmakers. “It’s just getting them to the point of saying: ‘Okay, let’s cut out all the gimmicks and everything else and let’s just get six years of certainty, or whatever we can get,’ so that we can put this behind us at least for hopefully another few years.”

In this Update, Bhatt also talks about building the team in Colorado that includes Deputy Executive Director Mike Lewis, the former CEO of the Rhode Island DOT.

You can view this report below, and see other recent transportation news and feature videos at the TTV website.

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