CDOT manages an aging interstate highway system that carries more than 40 percent of statewide highway travel.
Colorado's transportation needs are shaped by many geographic, economic, and societal factors. In terms of geography, Colorado covers 104,100 square miles and has the highest average elevation of any State, about 6,800 feet above sea level.
Large variations in Colorado's terrain, climate, and demographic characteristics contribute to a broad economic base. Colorado's diverse economy makes CDOT's job of providing transportation services a challenging one. The department must serve passengers, freight, and information moving on a local, interregional, interstate, and international level, while balancing the needs of urban and rural residents. It must, in allocating its resources among competing transportation projects and services, account for statewide goals to which transportation makes a critical contribution.
CDOT is responsible for a 9,135-mile State highway system that includes more than 3,700 bridges and 20 State-owned tunnels. Each year, this system handles more than 23 billion vehicle-miles of travel. Although interstate highways account for only about 10 percent (954 miles) of the total miles in the State system, they carry 40 percent of Colorado's highway travel.
Nearly 50 percent of the interstate system was built before 1965, and nearly 75 percent before 1970. With a 20-year design life, much of it now requires extensive repairs.
Colorado's harsh winters also take their toll on the highways. In 2003, CDOT maintenance crews plowed 5.9 million miles of highway and used more than 330,000 tons of asphalt to repair potholes and other road damage. Eight miles of road wind through the alpine tundra above 11,000 feet and take an average of 42 days to plow.
The State's transportation systems (including roadways, rail corridors, transit services, bicycle and pedestrian ways, and commercial and general aviation airports) are managed by CDOT under the direction of the State Transportation Commission. The Commission is statutorily authorized and composed of 11 commissioners who represent specific districts. CDOT administers an annual budget of $780 million and more than 3,300 employees. Organizationally, CDOT delivers projects and services through its six Transportation Regions.