Summit Daily letters: CDOT can find savings in existing budget
August 24, 2017
CDOT can find savings in existing budget
Colorado's traffic situation has reached crisis levels. Over the course of the four months since I declared my candidacy for governor, I've crisscrossed our state; no matter where I go, traffic is at the forefront of everyone's minds. It's not just along the Front Range, but in the mountains, on the plains and all across the West Slope. Even in this age of hyper-partisan politics, there is a remarkable bipartisan consensus around the need to address this issue.
Considering the breadth of the problem and the depth of people's frustration, I was shocked by the glib nature of the remarks by Shailen Bhatt, CDOT's current executive director.
Mr. Bhatt laments that CDOT needs $70 million to begin construction on a westbound toll lane on I-70. Rather than positing solutions for this problem, he instead attacks voters for their supposed shortsightedness in not agreeing to hand over billions more in tax dollars to CDOT. Like a true government bureaucrat, he is certain that the only solution for his department's problems is for taxpayers to reward him with more money.
Instead of demanding more money from Coloradans, Mr. Bhatt should examine ways in which CDOT can find savings in their existing budget. Other states have been remarkably successful in finding savings by exploring cost-cutting options that partner with private industry. In Florida, when the state solicited bids from private companies to take over portions of their road maintenance, even the highest of those bids was 12 percent below the state's own internal estimate.
If CDOT were able save even 10 percent of the $264 million they spend annually on internal maintenance costs, we could free up over $25 million a year in CDOT's operating budget — ample savings to fund a $70 million project over three years.
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The true source of our traffic problems isn't small budgets, or "unintelligent" citizens, as Mr. Bhatt puts it; it's a bureaucracy that fails to recognize its own inefficiencies.
With some political will and creativity, we can find the necessary savings to reinvest in our roads — though a strong backbone and creative thinking seem to be exactly what our current administration is missing.