Frisco and CDOT break ground on housing project expected to aid local workforce and winter road crew
The Colorado Department of Transportation has been shifting maintainers around the state to fill shortages but this project should help keep a dedicated crew in Frisco
Frisco and the Colorado Department of Transportation broke ground last week on a 22-unit workforce housing project being developed collaboratively between the municipal and state governments.
Granite Park, the project under construction at 619 Granite St., will consist of five studio units, 11 one-bedroom units and six two-bedroom units. Half the units will be available at affordable rent levels for CDOT employees, while the other half will be for employees that work for other businesses in Frisco. All the units will be deed restricted at less than 100% of the area median income.
“Workforce housing has been a pressing need for Frisco and Summit County for many years and has reached crisis level over the past few,” Mayor Hunter Mortensen said. “It is this crisis which will require creative partnerships like this one if we are going forward into the future to have the people working and living in our communities we so desperately need.”
The town signed off on a guaranteed maximum price of about $12.28 million for the construction of the two, three-story buildings. That cost will be split between the town and CDOT, with CDOT receiving credit for the value of the land, which they own. The Colorado Department of Local Affairs also contributed a $1.5 million grant toward the project.
State Sen. Dylan Roberts, who represents Summit County, lauded the project as a proactive and collaborative effort focused on addressing one of the largest issues Colorado mountain towns are facing.
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“We know that housing is our biggest issue here in our mountain communities and here across the western slope,” Roberts said. “Our communities deserve a workforce that is able to live near and where they work, and that is exactly what this project is about for our CDOT employees and for our town employees.”
CDOT first acquired the half-acre parcel at 619 Granite St. in 1974 and previously had a mobile home park there to provide housing for the department’s employees in the area. In 2020, CDOT and Frisco entered into an agreement to work together toward the Granite Park development.
Before breaking ground last week, CDOT Executive Director Shoshana Lew recalled facing workforce shortages this past winter while attempting to figure out how to keep the roads plowed through the winter.
“We cobbled together all of the resources we had as a group to get the job done over what was a tough winter,” Lew said. “But there is no getting around the fact that having affordable housing for our workforce in places like this that are really part of the community is instrumental to getting and keeping the talent that we need to do all of our jobs.”
With Interstate 70 passing through Summit County, Lew said CDOT expects that the new workforce housing units at Granite Park will help recruit and retain employees critical to maintaining the major thoroughfare that spans the Continental Divide.
For CDOT, it is ideal to have crew members housed within 30 minutes of their worksite so they can be at the scene of an emergency or ready to plow the roads during a snowstorm at a moment’s notice, she added.
“The stretch of I-70 that runs through Summit County is so critical to tourism and economic vitality,” Lew said. “And really, trying to keep people no more than 30 minutes from where they need to be in the line of duty, particularly in a snowstorm, is no small feat in a place like Summit County.”
CDOT Director of Maintenance and Operations John Lorme noted that Granite Park is likely one of the first workforce housing projects nationwide to be developed in partnership between a state transportation department and a municipality.
“You might be asking, ‘Why is CDOT, who is supposed to be building roads and managing roads, now into the housing market?'” Lorme said. “Well, we have a no-fail mission at CDOT. Our transportation system is the backbone for everything we have in our lives. So our maintainers are that critical link that keeps the roads open.”
For the past several years, CDOT has been forced to shift crew members all over the state to make up for staffing shortcoming, Lorme said. But with Granite Park expected to house CDOT crew members right in Frisco, employees should be right where they’re needed if there is an emergency in the county they need to respond to, he said.
“Whether it’s a fuel spill, an accident, just plowing snow or fixing a guard rail, (crew members) have got to be within 30 minutes of their job location,” Lorme said. “This project here is going to allow us to staff at least 11 maintainers in the town of Frisco that will be able to respond to anything on (Colorado) Highway 9 or I-70 in a moment’s notice.”