The California state controller’s office launched a two-month investigation in Riverside on Monday that they characterized as a routine review of a transportation project.

In a Feb. 22 letter, Controller John Chiang’s office told Riverside officials to expect a performance audit of the Columbia Avenue railroad overpass, a $31.6 million project completed in March 2010.

The letter included a list of documents that auditors will review, such as engineering records, change order files, and the city’s explanation of cost projections.

The state is auditing the project because some of the money came from Proposition 1B, a transportation bond issue that was approved by state voters in 2006, said Jacob Roper, the controller’s spokesman.

Although state officials portray the audit as a routine review of a project involving public funds, some Riverside residents were pleased, according to the Press-Enterprise newspaper.

A group of residents, including mayoral candidate Dvonne Pitruzzello, have been raising questions for months about city bonds, special funds and discretionary spending they alleged was improper, according to the report.

In an email, the report said, former city employee Raychele Sterling provided a 15-page summary alleging improper use of federal Build America Bonds to repay loans from various city funds, reimburse ineligible projects and pay for non-sewer projects.

According to the controller’s office, the audit was not a response to the citizen queries.

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