Hope is still alive for building the long-anticipated, $65 million airport interchange on Interstate 70.
The interchange would allow traffic to go directly to the Eagle County Regional Airport instead of funneling through Eagle or Gypsum.
The project originally had funding from a 1997 Senate Bill and a 2002 House Bill but both bills were repealed in 2009, eliminating a dedicated funding stream. From 2009 to 2011, Eagle County and Gypsum pursued federal TIGER discretionary grants.
The county is now looking at a new opportunity for funding through the Colorado Department of Transportation. CDOT initiated the RAMP ("Responsible Acceleration of Maintenance and Partnership") program in December 2012 and is seeking potential partnership projects. The program has a total of $1.5 billion available and the Eagle County Airport Interchange qualifies for the RAMP program.
To move forward with the application, the board of commissioners agreed on Tuesday to commit $2.5 million if the project is approved for RAMP funding. County Engineer Eva Wilson explained that the money is not needed up front but is a promise of money the county will contribute if the grant is awarded. The town of Gypsum is also pledging $2.5 million to bring the total amount of local matching funds to $5 million.
"At this point it's not an allocation quite yet, we're just stating the amount that we're prepared to allocate," said Commissioner Jon Stavney.
The $65 million price tag of the project includes $10 million for construction management.
"The commitment of local match for these projects is targeted at 20 percent, which is roughly $12 million in this case?" Stavney asked Wilson, implying that $5 million might not be good enough.
"Yes, but that's very high because this is a larger-than-average project," Wilson said. "My recommendation is to approach (CDOT) with $5 million from local communities and see how competitive it is."
For now, other details such as who will maintain what on the interchange still have to be worked out. The commissioners were assured that there will be opportunities to pull out if the situation becomes unfavorable.
"We still have an off-ramp ... no pun intended," said County Manager Keith Montag.
With that, Wilson was told to pursue the RAMP funding.
"There may be a time when this project dies of its own weight but that hasn't happened yet," Stavney said.