Programs

Challenges We Face

CDOT regularly receives ideas for transportation improvements from the public. Everything from widening highways, building bike and pedestrian friendly roads, creating more transit options and constructing that long wished for light rail to the mountains. We would love to do all of these projects and more, but we’re up against a steep funding crisis.

Colorado has the 12th lowest state gas tax in the country and we rely heavily on federal funding for construction projects.

Colorado’s gas tax at 22 cents per gallon hasn’t increased since 1991 and does not increase with inflation. The fact is, a dollar in the 90s does not equal a dollar in 2016. With what was collected in 1991, CDOT was able to spend $125 per person on transportation — building and improving highways and bridges, removing snow, improving safety; all the things we want to be able to do. Today, the gas tax remains at 22 cents per gallon and now CDOT can only spend $69 per person on transportation.

While it’s easy to assume that CDOT has more money because of the recent population boom in our state — which means more drivers paying registration fees and filling up at gas stations — the reality is that CDOT revenues are actually less than what they were in 1991 when you adjust for inflation.

Even though more people fill up at gas stations, they’re filling up less frequently because cars have become more fuel efficient. And fewer fill ups means less money generated from the gas tax.

CDOT has an annual budget of $1.41 billion. Of that, more than half ($747 million) goes just toward maintaining what we have, sustaining a C+ road surface grade. Another 14.5 percent ($205 million) of the budget are direct pass throughs to counties and cities for local projects. After taking into account other aspects of the budget, there’s far too little to expand our existing transportation system.

Our purpose will always be to save lives and make lives better by providing freedom, connection and experience through travel, but the reality is that progress is limited by the funding available.

Colorado: The Official State Web Portal