‘Only realstic shot’ at Eagle County airport interchange? | VailDaily.com

‘Only realstic shot’ at Eagle County airport interchange?

Chris Outcalt
coutcalt@vaildaily.com
Eagle County, CO Colorado
Vail Daily file photoRich Burba boards a 757 American Airlines airplane this winter at the Eagle County Regional Airport. County officials say a $1.5 billion pool of money may be the best chance to get an I-70 interchange built closer to the airport.
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EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado ” Eagle County officials have started work on a grant application that Commissioner Peter Runyon said may be the county’s only good chance at getting a new Interstate 70 interchange built closer to the airport.

When the American Recovery Act first passed, officials were hopeful the interchange might make the list of projects to be funded. The county and Gypsum both spent an additional $12,500 to speed up the design by a month to make sure it was ready to go to bid in case the money was available.

But the $80 million price tag attached to the interchange kept it from making any funding list.

Last week, the U.S. Department of Transportation released a list of guidelines transportation projects need to meet in order to qualify for part of a $1.5 billion pool of federal money. Officials hope to get some of the money for the interchange and have to apply by Sept. 15 in order to do so.

Design of the interchange is 90 percent finished.

Officials have known about the grant money for a while, but were waiting for the specific guidelines to be released before applying. The grants will be awarded to major-impact transportation projects that create jobs.

“This may be the only realistic shot we have,” said Runyon, who thinks having a lot of community support could be one of the keys to getting the money. “We need a strong base of support.”

The Colorado Department of Transportation has spent about $8 million designing the interchange. Eagle County and Gypsum have collectively chipped in $255,000.

Runyon has already started approaching businesses and other organizations to try and get support for the project.

“We’re going to be competing against a lot of people and the broader support we can show the greater chance we have at getting this money,” Runyon said.

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