Colorado Public Works Journal, Spring 2022

Spring2022| 11 SHOSHANA LEW Executive Director − CDOT Shoshana Lew took the helm at the Colorado Department of Transportation as the Executive Director in January 2019. In this edition of Industry Insights, Colorado Public Works Journal asked Shoshana to provide her perspective on CDOT and what it means to move people, goods, and information throughout Colorado. “Transportation can be very different from place to place,” shares Lew. “Colorado has attracted a lot of transplants like myself. It’s important to understand the terrain, the conditions, and Colorado’s climates can be quite extreme. Something as simple as snow tires that people from other places might not even think of can make a life and death difference in Colorado.” Having previously been the Chief Operating Officer for Rhode Island DOT and the Chief Financial Officer for the USDOT, Lew has made big picture budget and finance for the built environment her life’s work. In transportation, she finds a sector of service where it’s easy to see the tangible public benefit. “Transportation and infrastructure present complex challenges that genuinely affect almost everyone’s lives every day in real-time,” says Lew of her passion point. “It’s more than just moving people from A to B; it’s about how we pay for it and maintain it responsibly. It’s about creating two-way communication, so people know what’s happening on the road and we know what the public needs from us.” Asked about the state of the State, and the condition of the many roads and bridges under her charge, Lew is excited to begin year four of CDOT’s current 10-year plan. “The 10-year plan is the drumbeat of the organization. We are pleased to say that it includes public input and buy-in from each of Colorado’s 64 counties. This plan hits every corner of the state, including improving an estimated 600,000 miles of neglected rural roads.” Charged with overseeing the state’s transportation department, Lew offers a few thoughts for the many contractors, consultants, vendors, and material suppliers who execute CDOT work programs. “I think there is a tendency for people to get inside a bubble in their work. Everyone needs to step outside of their specific role or discipline and hear what others have to say. There are many layers and levels of expertise involved in transportation, and all of us must focus on transparency, accountability, collaboration, and communication. We can’t over-communicate.” As to the public traveling Colorado’s roads, Lew reinforces that our unique weather and terrain substantially shape CDOT’s everyday approach. “Roughly 60 percent of CDOT’s workforce is in operations, snow and ice, and roadway maintenance and preservation. By contrast, in Rhode Island, the state outsourced that. People can’t imagine what it would be like without the big orange fleet out there on snow days, but let me tell you, it would be very different if kids missed school for a week every time it snowed. Those guys earn our respect, and they deserve it.” INDUSTRY INSIGHTS “It’s more than just moving people from A to B; it’s about how we pay for it and maintain it responsibly” Key Projects in Progress CO 21 (Powers Blvd) and Research Parkway Diverging Diamond Interchange: • Replacing an at-grade intersection at CO21 and Research Parkway with a Diverging Diamond Interchange overpass expected to be completed in November 2022. I-25 Operational Improvements - Fillmore to Garden of the Gods: • Design and development of I-25 Auxiliary/Continuous Merge Lanes from Fillmore Street in Colorado Springs to Garden of the Gods Road exit. Currently in design with construction anticipated to start in summer 2022 and complete in 2024. I-25 North Express Lanes: Berthoud to Fort Collins: • Will increase highway capacity by adding an express lane in each direction, rebuilding interchangers, replacing aging bridges, and reduce highway curves from improved safety. The project will add two mobility hub transit facilities, add a carpool lane, and make utility and drainage improvements. feature by Sean O’Keefe View of I-25 North, Segments 7-8 taken in November 2021