Eagle County may spend to get Obama money | VailDaily.com

Eagle County may spend to get Obama money

Chris Outcalt
Eagle County, CO Colorado

Who they talked to: Eagle County Engineer Eva Wilson

What they talked about: 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.

Projects that are ready to go to construction in six months have the best chance of being funded, said Wilson.

The commissioners have identified a new Interstate 70 interchange that would serve the airport as one of its priority projects. But design of the interchange isn’t supposed to be finished until July, and Wilson suggested the commissioners spend money to speed up the process.

It would cost about an additional $75,000 to have the design finished in June and $150,000 to have it finished in May, Wilson said. The county and the town of Gypsum each spent $100,000 in 2008 on the design project.

“It’s critical for us to speed it up as quickly as we can afford,” Wilson said.

The Colorado Department of Transportation would likely decide which projects would get funding, Wilson said. The department is estimating the state could get $1.3 billion for road and bridge projects, Wilson said.

The department drafted a preliminary list of 116 projects totaling $1.166 billion it considers ready-to-go. The airport interchange project isn’t on the preliminary list.

There’s a good chance the stimulus package could get drawn out over 3-5 years, said Commissioner Peter Runyon.

“While ready-to-go is appropriate for this first list, we need to look very seriously at what else we can get in the pipeline,” Runyon said.

What’s next? The commissioners directed Wilson to get final numbers on what it would cost to speed up the design of an airport interchange.

Staff Writer Chris Outcalt can be reached at 970-748-2931 or coutcalt@vaildaily.com.

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