CDOT: $30 million for 14 counties, including Vail Valley
Vail, CO Colorado
EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado ” Eagle County, Colorado is one of 14 counties competing for about $30 million in federal stimulus money for transportation projects, according to Colorado Department of Transportation officials.
The money will likely be enough to fund about five projects in the 14-county area CDOT calls Region 3.
“It doesn’t go very far,” said Weldon Allen, a regional director with the transit department. “Particularly when you look at how expensive things are.”
It can cost as much as $2 million just to reconstruct one mile of a two-lane road, Allen said.
County staff has worked on preparing a list of projects it thinks could be eligible for money President-elect Barack Obama plans to spend on a national infrastructure stimulus package. Building a new Interstate 70 interchange that would serve the airport is at the top of the county’s list.
The department has been preparing two lists of projects for the 14-county area ” one to spend $30 million and one to spend $58 million. But Allen said the department doesn’t expect to get $58 million.
“It’s a moving target,” Allen said. “We’re trying to plan around a federal bill that hasn’t been written.”
Half of the projects would have to be ready to go to construction in 90 days, the rest would have to be ready in 180 days, Allen said.
“The intent, of course, is to put people to work as quickly as possible,” he said.
The department has been gathering input from town and county officials and plans to release a new project priority list Friday.
Safety and the economy of the area are two factors that have gone into prioritizing projects, Allen said.
“Safety is probably the number one consideration,” he said.
Eagle County is competing against Delta, Garfield, Grand, Gunnison, Hinsdale, Jackson, Lake, Mesa, Moffat, part of Montrose, Pitkin, Rio Blanco and Routt counties for the money.
If states don’t spend the money within 180 days, the federal government could take it back, Allen said.
“That’s the last thing we want to do,” Allen said. “What we want to do is put ourselves in a position that if there are other states that don’t spend money, we could use it.”
No matter how much money ends up being available, all the county can do is be prepared, Commissioner Sara Fisher said.
“It’s all a guessing game,” Fisher said. “What we’ll continue to do is be as ready as we can be with projects.”
The state transit department will only be responsible for distributing transportation money, Allen said. Other money could be available for projects related to water and aviation, he said.
Staff Writer Chris Outcalt can be reached at 970-748-2931 or email@example.com.