Briefing by the Department of Transportation
COMMITTEE ON JOINT TRANSPORTATION
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02:04 PM -- Briefing by the Department of Transportation
Mr. Bill Kauffman, representing the Colorado Transportation Commission, introduced Commission members, Executive Director Russell George, and staff joining him at the hearing. Mr. Russell George, executive director of the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT), discussed a slide presentation to the committee members (Attachment B). Ms. Heather Copp, representing CDOT, discussed revenue sources and expenditure categories. Ms. Copp explained federal sources impacting the state transportation budget. She further stated that maintenance of existing infrastructure has risen in priority due to budget constraints.
02:12 PM -- Representative Vaad asked Ms. Copp to clarify revenue sources specifically those termed "legislatively appropriated." Representated Green asked why the budget is the same despite the loss of full time employees. Ms. Copp responded that those positions were not lost, but were vacancies that were not filled. Ms. Copp further described revenue sources both projected and to date. The "gas tax" is based upon consumption; therefore reductions of fuel purchases result in fewer tax revenues. Ms. Copp further discussed the federal stimulus bill and its potential benefit to the CDOT budget.
02:21 PM -- Representative Vaad asked clarifying questions on the federal stimulus and expressed his apprehensions regarding federal stimulus funds being contingent on projects already contracted. Ms. Copp discussed federal transportation funding procedures. Representative Gibbs asked what local communities can do for transportation projects ready to commence yet not currently included. Ms. Copp suggested that the best procedure is to communicate with the metropolitan planning organizations. Senator Copp asked if Congress has a definition for jobs visible to the general public pertaining to projects prepared for the stimulus bill. Senator Copp also asked for an example of bridge projects in need of repair. Panel members responded with bridge examples and estimated costs, including $800 million to rehabilitate the Interstate 70 Viaduct. Further discussions ensued on revenues and projects related to the federal stimulus bill.
02:34 PM -- Representative Looper asked for the definitions of the terms structually deficient and functionally obsolete, as well as an explanation as to the current number of bridges classified under these terms. Mr. Mark Leonard, representing the CDOT Bridge Division, explained the definition of both terms in relation to bridge sufficiency and discussed the quantity of bridges under these classifications. Representative Looper further asked if CDOT has rehabilitation plans for all deficient bridges and if potential federal stimulus dollars would benefit such rehabilitation projects. Representative Looper also asked for clarification on the total number of bridges and requested a list of structurally deficient bridges according to district. Executive Director George responded that the list would be provided to the committee members. Representative McFadyen also expressed the priority of bridge safety.
02:40 PM -- Mr. Tony DeVito, representing CDOT Region One, discussed slides pertaining to surface treatment and pavement management. Mr. DeVito also discussed bridge conditions and rating systems, as well as maintenance responses. He provided further information on funding for bridge maintenance and the increasing problem of bridges receiving poor ratings. Mr. DeVito also discussed snow and ice historical expenditures in which expenditures consistently surpass budgeted amounts.
02:46 PM -- Mr. George discussed CDOT engineering contracts and explained that projects are completed through industry partnerships. In recent years, spending on engineering contracts have decreased substantially. Mr. George explained trends in construction spending and offered a summary of transportation related employment.
02:56 PM -- Mr. George described current legislative initiatives expected during the current session and asked the committee for questions.
03:00 PM -- Senator Romer asked if CDOT knows of the capacity of Colorado contractors to handle projects according to dollars spent. Senator Romer also asked what amount of spending reaches a point in which CDOT looks to contractors outside the state. Mr. George stated that there is high capacity in the private sector. However, procurement rules do not permit CDOT to screen based upon Colorado and out-of-state locations.
03:09 PM -- Senator Copp asked how federal stimulus dollars would be distributed. Mr. George responded that disbursement is unknown at this time, as are intended recipients. However, Mr. George predicted that the funds will be delivered in the same manner as federal transportation appropriation dollars distributed through the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act.