Airport interchange gets big boost in Eagle County
Eagle County, CO Colorado
EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado–While it’s not exactly money in the bank, the proposal to build an interchange closer to the Eagle County Airport got a big boost Friday.
The $70 million project was among six the Colorado Department of Transportation endorsed to received a federal “TIGER” grant, which is part of the federal economic stimulus program, Eagle County Commissioner Peter Runyon said.
“It’s a big deal,” said Runyon, who has been lobbying for the project aggressively. ” I basically said this an economic stimullus for the entire state, and I think that resonates with a lot of people.”
TIGER stands for “Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery” and there’s about $1.5 billion available. Other Colorado candidates include $300 million in improvements to Highway 36 between Denver and Boulder. There are three other projects in the $20 million range, Runyon said.
The airport interchange has been discussed in Eagle County for about 10 years. The idea is to build on- and off-ramps directly across the valley from the airport to reduce traffic in the centers of Eagle and Gypsum, now the only way to get to the airport.
The Colorado Department of Transportation has spent about $8 million designing the interchange. Eagle County and Gypsum have collectively chipped in $255,000.
Runyon said more convenient access to the airport would also ease traffic along I-70 between the valley and Denver. More people would fly to the mountains, he said.
The Colorado Department of Transportation’s endorsement means Eagle County will get lots of help from the state applying for the federal money. Applications are due in September, and Runyon said that he’ll spend the next two months trying to win support for the county’s application from towns in the valley and surrounding communities and counties.
Clear Creek County, on the east side of Eisenhower Pass, supports the interchange, Runyon said.
“We still have a long way to go, but we’re at the top of Colorado’s list,” Runyon said. “If we hadn’t gotten this endorsement from Colorado it probably wouldn’t have happened. This is one more step on a long journey.”