Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Bridge and Tunnel Enterprise?
The 2009 FASTER (Funding Advancement for Surface Transportation and Economic Recovery) legislation established the Colorado Bridge Enterprise, a government-owned business within the Colorado Department of Transportation. In 2021, the passage of SB21-260 modified the existing Colorado Bridge Enterprise to include both designated bridge projects and surface transportation projects for tunnels and renamed the enterprise to the Statewide Bridge and Tunnel Enterprise (BTE or Enterprise). The business purpose of the BTE is to finance, repair, reconstruct and replace designated bridges and repair, maintain, and more safely operate tunnels in Colorado.


What are the criteria for declaring a bridge or tunnel “eligible” for Bridge and Tunnel Enterprise funding and adding it to the Enterprise program?
In 2009, when the FASTER legislation went into effect, 128 bridges were determined to be eligible for the program. An assessment is performed semi-annually to identify newly eligible bridges. Bridges must meet the three following criteria to be eligible for BTE funding:

  • rated in “poor” condition (based on National Bridge Inspection Standards),
  • classified as a “major structure” (spans at least 20-feet),
  • and located on the state highway system (CDOT-owned facilities).

All tunnels located on the state highway system are eligible for BTE funding. A tunnel is defined as an enclosed roadway for motor vehicle traffic with vehicle access limited to portals, regardless of type of structure or method of construction. Tunnels can be bored, utilize “cut and cover” construction method, or be constructed from the ground; an example of the latter method is a snow shed. Under this definition of tunnels, snow sheds (used to help protect the roadway and the traveling public from the dangers of avalanches or possibly rockslides) are considered tunnels and are eligible for BTE funding. There are tunnels throughout Colorado.


What is a “poor” bridge?

The condition of different parts of a bridge are rated on a scale of 0 to 9 during their inspection (with 9 being “excellent” and zero being “failed”). A bridge condition rating is determined based on the deck (riding surface), the superstructure (supports immediately beneath the driving surface), the substructure (foundation and supporting posts and piers), or culvert ratings obtained from periodic structure inspections. The bridge is classified as “poor” if the lowest rating is less than or equal to 4 out of 9.


What is a "structurally deficient" bridge?
Structurally deficient means there are elements of the bridge that need to be monitored and/or repaired. The fact that a bridge is "structurally deficient" does not imply that it is likely to collapse or that it is unsafe. It means the structure must be monitored, inspected, and repaired/replaced at an appropriate time to maintain its structural integrity. To remain open to traffic, structurally deficient bridges may be posted, if necessary, with reduced weight limits that restrict the gross weight of vehicles using the structures. If unsafe conditions are identified during a physical inspection, the structure would be closed.


How is "structural deficiency" determined?
Bridges that have been rated as “poor” are classified as “structurally deficient.”


What is a "functionally obsolete" bridge?
Functionally obsolete is a legacy classification that was used to implement the FHWA Highway Bridge Program, which is now discontinued. As of 2016, FHWA is no longer tracking this measure as it pertains to “poor” bridges.  


How is the Bridge and Tunnel Enterprise funded?

The 2009 FASTER legislation created a Bridge Safety surcharge ranging from $13 to $32, based on vehicle weight, which is collected annually when you register your vehicle. With the passage of SB21-260, BTE received two additional revenue sources through the ongoing collection of a Retail Delivery fee (a flat fee placed on all retail deliveries) and the Bridge and Tunnel Impact fee (a per gallon special fuel fee). These fee revenues are directly used to mitigate the impact of the vehicles utilizing the state’s bridges and tunnels.

 In addition, BTE is authorized to issue revenue bonds and enter into agreements for loans or grants with governmental and non-governmental entities. In 2010, the Enterprise issued $300 million in bonds with the goals of accelerating the completion of Colorado’s worst bridges and stimulating the economy. Ultimately, projects to address 89 poor-rated bridges were funded through this bond program. 


I am aware of a bridge that looks like it is in bad condition. Can you replace it?

Not all bridges in the state can be replaced through the Enterprise. Often a bridge is owned by a city, town, or even a neighborhood, in which case the bridge cannot be replaced with BTE funding (these structures are considered “off-system”).  Only poor-rated, major structures that are owned by CDOT are eligible for Enterprise funding. More information on the “off-system” bridge program can be found here: Off-System Bridge Program — Colorado Department of Transportation ( Additional information on the prioritization of eligible bridge projects can be found below.


How are bridge projects prioritized?

Twice a year CDOT releases an updated list of “poor” bridges. Using this information, Enterprise staff develops a tiered list of statewide priority bridges using Board-approved prioritization criteria related to safety and risk, mobility, and economic factors. The BTE Bridge Prioritization Plan can be found as an attachment to the program’s quarterly reports, which can be found here: Quarterly Reports — Colorado Department of Transportation ( It should also be noted that the Enterprise prioritizes projects included in CDOT’s 10-year Vision Plan in accordance with the statute. The CDOT 10-year Vision Plan can be found here: 10-Year Vision Plan & Story Map — Colorado Department of Transportation (


How many bridges are in the Bridge and Tunnel Enterprise program now?
This number fluctuates as additional structures become eligible when the list of poor structures is updated. Visit the BTE home page to find the most current information on the number of structures in the program.  It should be noted that completed bridges are still considered to be “in the program” so the total structure count will increase over time.


What do you mean when you refer to a structure as "remaining"?
A "remaining" structure is classified as eligible to receive BTE funding but has not been programmed and/or budgeted. Although these bridges are eligible for BTE funding, most of them are not currently scheduled to be designed or constructed. This status may change at any time.


What are Bridge and Tunnel Enterprise’s plans to find funding for all the structures that need to be repaired or replaced?
There is no legislative mandate for the Bridge and Tunnel Enterprise to address every structure that is eligible for the program, however, BTE has committed to repair and/or replace as many of the BTE-eligible structures as possible based upon available funding resources. The Bridge and Tunnel Enterprise Board of Directors continually investigates options to accelerate projects, including federal discretionary grant funding opportunities and the issuance of revenue bonds.


Is the Enterprise going to build any new tunnels?

There are no current plans to construct any new tunnels using Bridge and Tunnel Enterprise funding.


If you’re not building any new tunnels, then what type of tunnel projects are you performing? 

The Enterprise is authorized to perform tunnel projects as described in SB21-260. The legislation defined a tunnel project as a “project to repair, maintain, or enhance the operation of any tunnel that is part of the state highway system.” The Enterprise’s primary focus will be to complete projects to keep the statewide tunnel asset class in as state of good repair.