Money for roads sought downvalley |

Money for roads sought downvalley

Kathy Heicher
Vail, CO Colorado

EAGLE COUNTY ” Five years ago, the towns of Eagle and Gypsum were getting their first traffic lights. These days, both towns have traffic lights, roundabouts and rush hour traffic.

The need for significant road improvements, and a lack of adequate funding are issues both downvalley communities share. The Colorado Department of Transportation isn’t offering money for the kind of road improvements that are needed.

In the past week, officials from the two towns and Eagle County sat down together to identify solutions to traffic problems.

The local governments may study how to form a regional transportation authority. That study would identify needed transportation improvements from Eagle to Gypsum, and would identify potential revenue sources.

The theory is that if the local communities can pull together some sort of cash contribution, federal and state transportation agencies might be more enthusiastic about funding projects.

“Whatever money we can raise together, the more effective we will be,” said Eagle Board member Scot Hunn.

A sore point for all three local government entities is the collapse of funding for an Interstate 70 airport interchange. The state proposed the interchange but a few years ago announced that there was no funding.

Estimates for the project, which was meant to connect I-70 with Cooley Mesa Road, range from $65 million to $125 million.

Lack of available money from the state in recent years has forced the towns and the county to finance their own improvements such as roundabouts and a road project in Edwards.

“If we weren’t using local tax dollars to pay for state highways, we’d be cobblestoning all of our streets,” said Gypsum Town Manager Jeff Shroll at meeting between the towns.

Eagle Board member Kraige Kinney suggested downvalley communities should also be lobbying the communities of Vail, Avon, and Beaver Creek for some help in financing an airport interchange.

“We need to ask those people up there for help. The airport benefits them. They should pay their share,” Gypsum Mayor Steve Carver said.

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