Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirNovember 21, 20172min671

Michael Lewis is moving up from No. 2 to the top spot at the Colorado Department of Transportation, the office of Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper announced Monday. Here’s a recap of the new chief exec’s hefty credentials, from the governor’s press announcement:

Lewis most recently served as the Deputy Executive Director and Chief Operating Officer for CDOT where he provided policy, technical, organizational and operational direction for the $1.4 billion organization with 3,000 employees. He also served as Director of Rhode Island Department of Transportation, is a former President of the American Association of State Highways and Transportation Officials … and is a member of the National Academy of Construction …

Says the guv:

“Mike has a reputation as a problem solver and brings an incredible transportation background to CDOT at a time when our state is faced with significant transportation challenges … His experience with some of the biggest projects in our state is critical as we build upon the successes of the last few years. I look forward to seeing his leadership as we embark on significant future projects.”

Lews replaces departing CDOT boss Shailen Bhatt, who will become president and CEO of the Intelligent Transportation Society of America.


Ernest LuningErnest LuningAugust 21, 20178min642

Picture six Broncos games getting out at the same time on the same stretch of road. That's what traffic generated by Monday's total eclipse of the sun — a once-in-a-century event in these parts — could amount to, the Colorado Department of Transportation is warning state motorists. And for those stuck in traffic between Friday and Monday, AAA Colorado has some tips and a musical playlist guaranteed to brighten even the darkest day.

Joey BunchJoey BunchMay 21, 20175min289

From Michael Bennet’s astonishment in a Denver church to Shailen Bhatt’s apologies about highway projects across the state, Colorado’s newsmakers kept Colorado Politics’ reporters busy this week.

Here are the political stories that will keep the conversation going as spring turns to summer.


Gov. John Hickenlooper (

5. Hickenlooper and Coffman clash on oil and gas

The current Democratic governor, John Hickenlooper, and a potential Republican candidate for the job next year, Attorney General Cynthia Coffman, had different views on appealing a decision in a case brought by teenagers. The suit asked state regulators to do more to ensure public safety before issuing permits.

Read the full story here.


Board of County Commissioners Chair Dennis Hisey, center, calls for a vote to request El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa’s resignation Thursday, May 29, 2014. The Board voted unanimously in favor of Maketa’s resignation. (The Gazette file photo)

4. Hisey has his eyes set on a seat in the Capitol

Former El Paso County Commissioner Dennis Hisey says he’s the man to replace Senate President Kevin Grantham, of Canon City, next year. Grantham is term-limited. Hisey, a Republican, was forced off the El Paso County Commission by term limits this year, as he turns his focus from county to state politics.

Read the full story here.


Senate transportation bill
Traffic backs up on snowbound Interstate 25 near Colorado Boulevard as a spring storm packing light snow and cold temperatures arrived Tuesday in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

3. CDOT director delivered the bad news: No asphalt for you

Shailen Bhatt, Colorado’s highway director, traveled around the state for Infrastructure Week, telling locals that lawmakers didn’t put nearly enough in their budgets to cover the needs. The tour capped off a tumultuous legislative session and began a waiting game for the November ballot.

Read the full story here.


Democrat Michael Bennet
U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet warms up a crowd at his town hall meeting in Denver Friday night. (Photo by Joey Bunch/Colorado Politics)

2. Bennet bashes Republican president, but keeps his chin up on the republic

U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet sounded astonished talking about the alleged ties between President Trump and Russian operatives during a town hall meeting in Denver Friday night. The senior senator for Colorado, however, opened by saying he’s never been more optimistic about the fate of the republic despite Washington’s politics and the nation’s security.

Read the full story here.


Gov. John Hickenlooper talks to reporters Thursday morning about his post-session plans to address unfinished business from the legislative session that ended Wednesday. (Photo by Joey Bunch/Colorado Politics)

1. Governor to lawmakers: You’re done

Gov. John Hickenlooper said Friday he won’t add to the four months of work legislators already have put in. He won’t call a special session, even though he thought lawmakers could have found agreements, as they promised to, to address transportation and other major issues.

Read the full story here.

Joey BunchJoey BunchMay 16, 20176min330

State transportation director Shailen Bhatt told leaders in Colorado Springs Tuesday morning he chooses to see a glass half full after the legislature adjourned last week.

That only proves Bhatt is an optimist. Against $20 billion in projected needs over the next two decades, the General Assembly came up with just $1.88 billion, and even that number is misleading. Clogged interstates, such as the 17-mile stretch between Monument and Castle Rock, will get only a fraction of that.

Rural communities get a quarter of the new money created by Senate Bill 267. Transit gets 10 percent, and the Colorado Department of Transportation has to pony $50 million from its already stretched maintenance budget.

“We’ll be taking a small amount of peanut butter and spreading it on a big piece of toast,” Bhatt said after his talk.

He was scheduled to speak in Pueblo, Vail, Grand Junction and Durango Tuesday as part of Infrastructure Week, the Colorado Department of Transportation’s observance of the state’s critical needs.

Bhatt wished he could deliver them all good news to those communities about their local projects, but his promises would be as empty as his pockets.

“Everywhere in this state there are incredibly important projects just waiting to go,” he said. ‘What I don’t get to do today is go to all these places and say, ‘You get a project and you get a project …’ ”

Bhatt and other transportation leaders on Tuesday spoke of their concerns about the eventual economic impact of traffic jams and dilapidated roads and bridges.

Two bills that would have asked voters to approve billions of dollars in new money died in the Republican-led Senate.

One would have asked voters to approve a 0.50 sales tax increase and the other would have done away with the flat $3 price for tags on vehicles 10 years or older.

Instead, lawmakers reclassified a fee on hospital beds that will cost Coloradans on their refunds under the Taxpayer’s Bill of rights.

Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers thanked his city’s residents for voting last month to forego up  to $12 million in TABOR refunds to pay for stormwater improvements. In 2015, Colorado Springs voters passed Ballot Issue 2C to create a 0.62 percent sales tax to raise $50 million annually for five years to pay for transportation needs.

“We’ve just begun our journey in terms of infrastructure,” Suthers told the crowd assembled at The Antlers hotel Tuesday morning. “We still have work to do in the 2C effort … I really applaud those voters who stepped up in this regard.”

Suthers, a former state Republican attorney general who is being considered by President Trump to be the next FBI director, advocated for both taxes. Many of his GOP counterparts in the legislature lacked the “political courage” that Bhatt said conservative leaders in states such as Utah have shown to raise money for transportation.

Of Colorado lawmakers, Suthers said, “They stepped up a little this year, but they need to step up more.”

Gov. John Hickenlooper was disappointed that legislature couldn’t deliver on what Democrats and Republicans cited as their top goal for the four-month session. He is considering calling a special session.

Meanwhile, groups such as the Independence Institute, the Denver-based libertarian-leaning think tank, are considering ballot initiatives in November. The Independence Institute would ask voters to require lawmakers to find money solely for roads and bridges in the existing state budget, which is $28.5 billion for next year.

Other ballot issues being discussed could ask voters to approve an increase in the state’s sales or gas taxes with a portion of the money going for transit projects.

Mark Waller, an El Paso County commissioner and a former House minority leader in the legislature, said the costs and responsibility have to shared by local, state and federal sources to tackle such major projects as interstates 25 and 70.

“We don’t get this done unless we all work on it together,” he told the chamber members.

Joey BunchJoey BunchFebruary 27, 20174min321
Colorado hasn’t raised its gas tax since the last time the Minnesota Twins won a World Series, since you knew everybody’s name on “Cheers” and since KFC was called Kentucky Fried Chicken. And that matters — a lot, state highway director Shailen Bhatt told business leaders last week at a forum organized by the Fix […]

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John TomasicJohn TomasicFebruary 18, 20175min684

At a raucous meeting hosted Thursday by the Colorado Department of Transportation and <a href="" target="_blank">hijacked by angry residents</a> of the Elyria-Swansea neighborhoods in central Denver, the presence of three members of the Legislature made a splash. There was state Speaker of the House Crisanta Duran in the front row mostly watching and listening to the angry residents. They're all her District 5 constituents. And there standing at the back were reliably outspoken members of the House chamber Reps. Joe Salazar, D-Thornton, and Dan Pabon, D-Denver. They stood just watching, too, their lips sealed, their heads turning this way and that way as people at the front of the crowd made points and audience members shouted in response.


Ernest LuningErnest LuningFebruary 15, 20178min521

An annual study released this week by the Washington, D.C.-based AAA Foundation found that an overwhelming majority of young-adult drivers engage in risky behavior behind the wheel, including texting, running red lights and speeding, making them the worst-behaved drivers on the road. Their older cohorts however, don’t do much better, the study found, with the very oldest drivers counted as the safest, but then only by comparison.


John TomasicJohn TomasicFebruary 14, 20174min397

Legislative leaders will meet in a public forum February 21 to talk about ongoing negotiations at the Capitol around transportation funding. The meeting will take place at a gathering of business leaders and other interested parties who are pleading with lawmakers this year to arrive at a deal between Republicans and Democrats that will end in something significant being done to address the state’s crumbling and outdated transportation infrastructure. The Denver panel meeting is being hosted by the Colorado Business Roundtable and Fix Colorado’s Roads — which is the unsubtly named coalition of mostly business interests pushing lawmakers hard to reach an agreement. The roster of panel participants includes Speaker of the House Crisanta Duran, a Denver Democrat, Senate President Kevin Grantham, a Cañon City Republican, Colorado Department of Transportation Executive Director Shailen Bhatt, Vail Mayor Dave Chapin and regional chambers of commerce leaders.