Colo. to accelerate transportation construction projects

DENVER Ė Gov. John Hickenlooper and the head of the Colorado Department of Transportation said Friday more construction projects will start sooner because of a new budgeting plan thatís expected to free up $300 million annually through five years.

Hickenlooper and Colorado Department of Transportation Executive Director Don Hunt said projects will begin based on the money the state currently has saved up for projects, a change from the current system of waiting to save all the money needed to begin a project, which takes years.

ďThe program doesnít solve the stateís long-term transportation needs, but it does accelerate many projects that might otherwise have had to sit longer,Ē Hickenlooper said in a statement announcing the initiative, called the ďResponsible Acceleration of Maintenance and Partnerships,Ē or RAMP.

The budgeting change is expected to free hundreds of millions of dollars over five years, and speeding up construction is expected to create or sustain more than 10,500 jobs during that time, state officials said.

ďAgain, itís safe to have the money in the bank, but it doesnít really provide the benefit thatís intended,Ē Hunt said. He said the new budgeting plan is being implemented now and his department already has picked a few projects that will start earlier than expected.

They include $86 million worth of repaving roads across the state and widening Interstate 25 from Monument to Colorado Springs. More comprehensive projects will begin in the coming months, Hunt said.

ďWe still have high unemployment in Colorado, and very high construction unemployment. Weíre going to put a lot of people back to work,Ē he said.

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