Bridge projects funded by vehicle registration fees, fines for registration and bonds are coming along slowly. Six of the 121 bridges statewide that are covered by FASTER — Funding Advancement for Surface Transportation and Economic Recovery — have been completed since the Colorado Bridge Enterprise was created in 2009, according to the Colorado Department of Transportation. Eighteen bridges are in the construction phase. And for those that remember the tragedy of the partial bridge collapse on 6th Avenue in 2004, killing an entire family, and the I-35W bridge collapse four years ago in Minnesota, it leaves a lot of concern for the safety of our system.
There are still 97 of the 121 bridges awaiting construction. Eleven have designs complete; 46 more are in the design phase; and 40 have been prioritized as part of the program but no work has begun on them. Thirty-five of the projects are in Southern Colorado between Fremont County and the Kansas state line. Seven are in Pueblo County. There are no program projects in the San Luis valley.
Annual assessments of bridges determine which are added to the list, according to CDOT. Tim Harris, chief engineer for CDOT, explained that availability of other access routes in the event that a bridge becomes impassable also is factored into prioritizing projects, so rural areas are not at a disadvantage.
The bond component of FASTER helped jumpstart the program with $300 million structured in 20 to 30 years of debt. And it has the ability to issue more bonds. CDOT has leveraged the availability of funds into economical construction work during the Great Recession.