State Rep. 'extremely disappointed' CDOT transparency effort killed

By Charlie Morasch, Land Line contributing writer | 10/2/2015

Only weeks after an audit blistered the Colorado Department of Transportation for its inability to explain how projects are selected, one legislator’s effort to add transparency to spending decisions for bridges in Colorado failed last week.

Colorado’s Transportation Legislative Review Committee opposed the effort of one Republican to draft a bill requiring CDOT to document why certain bridge projects are chosen to be funded through the state’s FASTER program. 

FASTER funds bridge repairs with increased car-registration fees.

On a Facebook account attached to his name, Rep. Daniel Nordberg (R–Colorado Springs) wrote about the bill’s defeat on Sept. 30.

“Extremely disappointed the Democrats killed my proposal today to bring more transparency to CDOT,” Nordberg wrote. “Coloradans deserve to know how their fee and tax dollars are being spent on transportation projects.”

On Aug. 30, the Colorado Office of the State Auditor released an audit titled, “Collection and Usage of the FASTER Motor Vehicle Fees.”

The audit found CDOT could not demonstrate how bridges were selected for FASTER funding, and could not explain why FASTER bridge projects were “significantly over budgeted and remain open for long periods after most construction work is complete.”

Some bridges that had been classified as lower safety priorities were funded before bridges designated as higher safety priorities, the audit said.

Additionally, the audit found CDOT spent $10.7 million on projects that may not have met legislative requirements for FASTER revenue. CDOT couldn’t account for how an additional $6 million was spent. A full 40 percent of FASTER safety projects may not have been approved by the state’s Transportation Commission.

“CDOT did not maintain adequate recordkeeping and accounting controls over the FASTER oversize/overweight vehicle surcharge,” the audit states.

Nordberg is reportedly planning to talk with other members of his caucus about furthering the transparency idea through other means.

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