Projects in Eagle County to receive $6.7 million in federal funding |

Projects in Eagle County to receive $6.7 million in federal funding

Eagle Valley Trail, Precourt Healing Center and Minturn wastewater treatment plant receive federal funding

Ribbon cutting for the new section of the Eagle Valley Trail in August. Eagle County received $2 million to help finance the last 12 miles of trail.
John LaConte/Vail Daily

Three projects in Eagle County will receive a total of $6.7 million in federal funding from the $1.7 trillion omnibus spending bill that passed in the House and Senate this week. The funds will go toward completing the Eagle Valley Trail, establishing a new inpatient behavioral health facility in the county and financing a water treatment plant in Minturn.

These projects are being funded through the congressionally directed spending and community project funding processes. Each year, members of Congress are allowed to request funding earmarked for specific projects in their home state. Nonprofits and government entities submit funding requests directly to the representatives, who then bring select projects before the federal government to consider as part of the Fiscal Year 2023 omnibus funding bill.

All together, congressional representatives in Colorado secured more than $178 million to finance over 100 projects across the state.

“For the second year in a row, this process has empowered Coloradans to tell Congress directly about the challenges their communities face and how Washington can be a better partner,” Sen. Michael Bennet said in a statement. “From upgrading water infrastructure to increasing access to affordable housing to investing in minority-owned businesses, these projects will help meet the needs of Coloradans and continue our work of building an economy that works for everyone and every community.”

Eagle County projects

The Eagle County Government is receiving $2 million toward the completion of the Eagle Valley Trail project, a 63-mile paved trail that will allow individuals to ride their bikes over 140 miles continuously from Breckenridge to Aspen when completed.

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Construction of different sections of the trail has been an ongoing process for nearly 25 years, and is now down to the final 12 miles, all of which are contained in Eagle County. The final sections are projected to cost around $38.2 million, a price that has climbed in recent years with inflation of labor and material costs.

All sections are scheduled to be completed by 2024, and ECO Trails, the organization overseeing its progress, is working hard to close the remaining funding gaps. Thus far, the county has committed $22 million, using the main county campus buildings as collateral. 

The financing plan for the trail includes a projected $13.2 million in grants and public contributions, and this latest $2 million brings the county one step closer to meeting that goal. For the final $3 million, ECO Trails and the county will be looking to community and private contributions to finally bring a close to the generational project.

The second local organization to receive a grant is Vail Health, which was awarded $2.7 million for the creation of the Precourt Healing Center. The center will be a 50,000-square-foot inpatient behavioral health facility that provides 28 beds for mental health treatment in the valley and creates a central location for behavioral health resources.

The center is the latest step in a strong push by Vail Health and public entities to increase access to quality mental health care in the valley. Vail Health broke ground on the facility in Edwards this September, and plans to complete it by 2025.

“When we have the psychiatric facility, our objective is that no one will have to leave our valley to get any level of behavioral health care,” Chris Lindley, the executive director of Eagle Valley Behavioral Health, told the Vail Daily in September. “We are trying to create a model and a system where, if you need services, you can get that treatment, that healing, that care, those resources right here in this valley.”

The town of Minturn also received $2 million to help finance a new water treatment plant, which has been long envisioned for the growing town. The money will help with a complex project that is seeing cost increases with each passing day.

Earlier this year the town hired HDR, Inc. for professional engineering services in the design and engineering of the new plant.

“We have currently reassigned them to reassessing the design due to the large increase in cost of building such a thing,” Minturn Mayor Earle Bidez said on Wednesday. “We’re going to be finding the most efficient way of getting that job done.”

The new water treatment plant is part of a comprehensive water system improvement effort currently underway in Minturn.

Statewide projects

There are also two statewide projects with an active presence in Eagle County that received substantial funding this year.

The first is the Colorado State Forest Service, which was awarded $3.4 million for forest resiliency projects. With wildfires becoming an increasingly common occurrence, the forest service undertakes consistent mitigation and restoration work, including hazardous fuel reduction and assisting the recovery of an ecosystem that has been damaged or destroyed by fire.

CareerWise Colorado, a career apprenticeship program for high school students, also received $1.5 million to develop apprenticeship pathways in education and health care. CareerWise began in Colorado in 2017 as a way to develop innovative career pathways and educational opportunities for students, modeled after successful programs in Switzerland. Eagle County was the first rural community in the country to implement the CareerWise model and has been growing its program each year.

This year’s earmarked funding will enable local organizations to move forward with their projects faster and farther, and help close financing gaps to bring impactful services to the valley.

“Coloradans know best what their communities need,” Sen. John Hickenlooper said. “These projects are examples of how everyone wins when Washington listens to the needs of the people we serve.”

Vail Daily reporter John LaConte contributed to this article.

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