Letter: I-70 project saps funds from Highway 13

The good news is CDOT has awarded Elam Construction a 3.7 mile Highway 13 modernization project from the south end of the work completed a couple of years ago southerly toward Rifle (MP 27.1-MP 30.8). The cost, funded by taxpayer stimulus money, is $10.6 million. This cost includes about a mile of utility relocations and fencing beyond the reconstruction limits. Elam’s bid came in about 8 percent below the engineer’s estimate.
The bad news is that a better investment for the money would have been the building of passing lanes, especially between Rifle and Rio Blanco, and the creation of a safer intersection at Rio Blanco. Of course, the 3.7 miles of modern highway will be terrific, but it’s somewhat like a rancher who needs a new pickup going out and buying a Cadillac sedan instead.
The problem is that CDOT is locked into a process that ignores pressing safety needs. Another even more unwise expenditure of stimulus money is $11 million to be spent on three roundabouts at the Edwards/I-70 interchange. In response to my question, the answer I got was local officials wanted the money spent there, so CDOT had to go along with their wishes. I thought the Transportation Commission decided where highway funds should go. Oh, that’s right, that’s how it was in the “good ole days.”
Dick Prosence