Eagle, Gypsum, county may take over Highway 6 maintenance
EAGLE —The program title is a futuristically sounding one — “devolution.” But in the end, it basically means an old school type of deal involving up-front cash in exchange for long-term commitment.
The Colorado Department of Transportation is revisiting an idea that was floated a few years ago that involves local governments taking over ownership of highways that function more like local roads than state highways. In exchange for taking over the highway sections, the local governments involved would accept one-time cash payments from the Department of Transportation that would be roughly equal to the estimated cost of maintenance for 20 years.
Back in 2009, the towns of Eagle and Gypsum together with Eagle County worked out an agreement with Department of Transportation to take over U.S. Highway 6 from the Gypsum roundabout to the Eby Creek Road roundabout. At that time, the proposed payment was $11.76 million. While the application received the recommendation of the Department of Transportation staff, it did not receive funding.
Tom Gosiorowski, from the town of Eagle, and Jim Hancock and Ross Morgan, from the town of Gypsum, met with the Eagle County commissioners to introduce the new program and gauge the county’s support to partner up for another application.
The biggest factor in favor of a deal is the idea that in the future, the Department of Transportation will being turning over assets without the cash payment incentive. The local representatives noted it may be more prudent to step up early and take over maintenance when there is still money on the table.
But the amount of money available for the Highway 6 devolution offer is yet to be determined.
“We are anxiously awaiting the offer that comes from CDOT,” Gosiorowski said.
When that figure is released, he said if any of the three partners is not happy with the offer, then the application process can be stopped.
However, Gosiorowski also noted there are other advantages to taking over the roadway, most notably it would remove the towns and the county from a sometimes onerous state approval process.
During a Tuesday work session, county and town representatives discussed how the money paid up front could be stashed away to help fund future highway needs.
“We are looking at this as an opportunity to get some seed money for improvements that are needed now” Gosiorowski said.
The commissioners voiced conceptual approval for a devolution application.
“I can certainly see this is as a direction we are interested in moving forward with,” said Sara Fisher, commissioner.
Those units are all deed-restricted, meaning that only people who work an annual average of 30 hours per week can live there. That keeps the apartments out of the short-term rental pool and available to local residents.