Colorado readies road needs for stimulus funds
The Denver Post
The crumbling interchange where Interstate 25, South Santa Fe Drive and West Alameda Avenue come together could be among the first beneficiaries of more than $400 million in federal stimulus money for repair of roads and bridges around Colorado.
On Wednesday, the Colorado Department of Transportation identified high-priority, “ready-to-go” highway projects throughout the state that could be jump-started by an estimated $422 million that should flow to Colorado from the stimulus measure promoted by the Obama administration and Congress.
A bill being considered in Congress would funnel about $30 billion to road and bridge repair nationally and another $7 billion to transit projects.
In addition to the $422 million that Colorado expects to get for roads, the state anticipates it will get another $100 million for urban and rural transit projects.
Congress has made it clear that the highway and transit money going to states and regional entities must be put to use quickly; unused money will be returned to the federal government.
“Our goal is to use 100 percent of the funds that come to the state of Colorado,” CDOT official Jennifer Finch told members of the Colorado Transportation Commission on Wednesday.
Noting the priority of putting people to work, Finch said the federal stimulus was more of a “jobs bill” than a transportation measure.
Other highway projects in metro Denver that are at the top of CDOT’s priority list include a new $19 million interchange at East Arapahoe Road and South Parker Road, the $50 million reconstruction of U.S. 36 between Table Mesa Drive and West 88th Avenue; the $20 million “restoration” of C-470 from Santa Fe Drive to I-25; and a new $6.4 million concrete surface for Wadsworth Parkway between West 88th and West 104th avenues.
In southeast Colorado, the highest priority candidate for stimulus money is a $16 million project that would reconstruct U.S. 287 south of Springfield, CDOT said.
In the state’s northwest, the top-priority project is the $13 million reconstruction of Colorado 13 in Rio Blanco County, the agency added.
Officials said Colorado hopes to get about $100 million in stimulus money for transit projects, with about 90 percent flowing to urban systems and the balance to rural transit agencies.
The top candidate for money in the urban category is about $18.6 million in improvements for Denver’s Union Station that will be used as part of RTD’s FasTracks program.
Other high-priority transit projects that are in line to get federal stimulus funds are a $10.3 million bus maintenance facility in Summit County and a $14 million multimodal transportation station in downtown Colorado Springs.
Eagle County and the town of Avon also hope to use the federal money to construct a $24 million regional transit facility shared by the county and town.
Finch emphasized that language in the federal bill is likely to change and some projects could lose priority status while others may gain it.
CDOT estimates that the amount of one-time federal stimulus money it may get for highways ” about $422 million ” is roughly equal to the money the agency expects its fiscal 2010 budget to be down from the current year’s budget. The forecast is down because of expected declines in federal and state funding for transportation.
A draft of the list of priority highway and transit projects that could be funded with federal stimulus money can be found at denverpost.com.