Responsible Acceleration of Maintenance and Partnerships
The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) is changing how it budgets and expends funds for transportation projects. Using sound business practices, this new effort, known as Responsible Acceleration of Maintenance and Partnerships (RAMP), will better coordinate project expenditures and available funding.
- Current Practice. Currently, CDOT does not advertise a project until all of the money is “in the bank,” which means the department is saving money for projects over multiple years before construction begins. In addition, some projects take several years to construct - so money often sits unspent when it could be utilized much sooner.
- New Practice. Under the RAMP program, CDOT will fund multi-year projects based on year of expenditure, rather than saving for the full amount of a project before construction begins.
In 2006, CDOT instituted a new computer software system called SAP. One of the reasons for doing so was to improve CDOT business and financial practices, including the potential opportunity to change the way we budget and expend funds. Since that time, CDOT has not had the opportunity to change because both state and federal funds have fluctuated greatly. With the recent passage of MAP-21 and the four-year extension of the federal gas tax we have a bit more certainty in the federal funding picture than we have had over the last four years, allowing us to pursue this opportunity. In a time of reduced resources, CDOT is ready to move forward with this new approach to become more efficient and effective. CDOT joins several other DOTs around the nation who are now utilizing this method of project delivery, including North Carolina, who also utilizes the SAP system.
Increased Construction, NOT Increased Revenue
You may have heard that CDOT was “saving up money” because we were uncertain about federal funding, and now we are “releasing” the money. Not true. You may have also heard we dug through our rather large seat cushions and found a pile of cash without a current home. Also not true. It is taking better advantage of money in the year it is available and looking at all of our projects funds as a whole rather than each project as an individual silo that is allowing us to increase construction. As a result of CDOT altering its budget practices, we will be able to increase project construction by about $300 million per year over the next five years. This increase in construction activity is one-time and is from existing, already encumbered dollars, not new funding sources or new transportation revenues.
Not a Solution to Our Transportation Needs
While this change in fiscal management will help to fill the gap for a little while, it isn’t permanent- it isn’t new money- and it isn’t large enough to solve Colorado's transportation needs. This is a challenge that will require a much greater, statewide effort. Remember that in January, 2008 the “Colorado Transportation Finance & Implementation Panel” determined that Colorado needed an additional $1.5 billion each year to help solve our transportation needs. In a very best case scenario, CDOT may be able, over the course of five years, to fill one year’s gap.