Eagle County shooting for $10 million trails grant
EAGLE — It’s better to have swung and missed than never to have swung at all, and Eagle County is stepping back to the plate again trying to secure a federal grant to finish the county-wide trail system.
The county commissioners gave the green light Monday for the ECO Trails staff to take a shot at a $9.2 million federal transportation grant.
The total project is $15 million to build 19 miles. Of that, 14 miles run along U.S. Highway 6 between Edwards and Eagle, along with a few miles between Gypsum and Dotsero, and between Eagle-Vail and Minturn.
When they’re done, it’ll be an uninterrupted trail from Vail Pass to Glenwood Canyon, with spurs through Minturn and Red Cliff.
While they’re asking the feds for $9.2 million, the county would kick in $5.8 million, which includes $800,000 to design it.
There are no guarantees when looking for federal grant money, said Ellie Caryl, director of ECO Trails.
ECO Trails took a swing at a Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery grant for its trails last year, Caryl said.
Last year, 798 applicants tried to grab for a piece of a $600 million TIGER pie.
The feds will probably have that many applications again, and the pie is $500 million this time around.
Also, the county is competing with urban areas around the country, so while Caryl says they “remain upbeat and positive,” she said they’re still not putting all their eggs in this year’s TIGER basket.
The grant has to be submitted by early June. They expect to hear something in the fall.
$500 million available
The commissioners had to choose whether to try for the $9.2 million for its trail system or ask the federal government — yet again — for $75 million to fund an Interstate 70 airport interchange, which the feds rejected in 2009.
This round of TIGER grants is $500 million for the entire nation, announced U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. No state can receive more the $125 million of that, under this round’s TIGER grant rules.
Foxx said the grant program is designed to focus on capital projects that generate economic development and improve access to mass transportation.
“We’re not saying the interchange is not a good project. The question is whether it will compete well,” said Jill Ryan, county commissioner.
The planned Eagle Valley Regional Trail System will be 63 miles long, connecting Vail Pass to Glenwood Canyon including a connection to Red Cliff.
The Eagle Valley Trail is a connected core trail and separated from roadways.
The Eagle County Trails Program began in 1996 when voters approved a half-percent sales tax to finance mass transportation. Ten percent of the revenues from that tax were designated for the development of a county-wide trails system.
Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and firstname.lastname@example.org.