Vail, Eagle County to receive more than $1M each from omnibus government funding bill
Biden signed bill Friday providing $1.5 trillion in appropriations
As fiscal year 2022 kicked off in the U.S., and congressional appropriations committees began accepting legislators’ spending requests for the first time in a decade, not many people riding the ECO bus at the Lake Creek Village apartments realized it could be an opportunity for a new bus shelter.
Eagle County’s Regional Transportation Authority (ECO Transit) did, however, and put in a request for Congress to direct spending to the Lake Creek project.
The authority will now receive $1,201,000 for not only the new bus shelter, but improved pedestrian access including three new pull offs and a partial road realignment. The bus stop will also receive a 500kW on-route charging system to increase the operating range of existing battery-electric buses.
It’s one of several ways in which money from the more than $1.5 trillion in appropriations provided by the omnibus government funding bill, signed by President Biden on Friday, will reach Eagle County in 2022.
The U.S. Senate passed the bill on Thursday, with Colorado Senators Michael Bennet and John Hickenlooper both seeing the appropriation committee’s acceptance of funding requests as an opportunity to fund projects in Colorado.
“This process was an opportunity for Coloradans to tell Washington directly about the challenges we face, and I’m pleased we are delivering on their requests,” Bennet said.
Part of Bennet and Hickenlooper’s goals are focused on what they call America’s clean energy future, in which fossil fuel powered vehicles are transitioned to electric, and the electric grid is powered by renewable energy as much as possible.
ECO transit says the Lake Creek Village improvements help achieve those goals locally by allowing ECO Transit to increase the range of existing battery electric buses, thereby accelerating fleet electrification.
Locally, Eagle County’s 2017 Strategic Plan and the 2020 Climate Action Plan set forth green house gas reduction goals of 25 percent by 2025 and 80 percent by 2050. ECO Transit, which is funded by a half-cent sales tax in Eagle County, will provide $300,254 in matching funds for the Lake Creek Village project.
“Accelerating (battery electric bus) adoption and fleet electrification is the ideal way to achieve these goals, and the (Lake Creek Village) project will allow ECO Transit to expedite our transition away from diesel buses,” according to ECO Transit.
In Vail, battery electric bus adoption is also underway, and funds from the omnibus government funding bill will help achieve the town’s goals.
The town of Vail will receive $1,650,000 from the spending bill, which will go toward charging infrastructure and the replacement of two diesel buses with battery electric options.
The town of Vail was recently awarded $2.3 million from the Colorado Department of Transportation for four of the six additional electric buses expected to be delivered in 2023, as well.
That means by 2024, the town expects to have 12 electric buses out of the 33 total in the fleet, as the town “will continue to replace diesel buses with electric as we move through our replacement cycles,” said Finance Department Director Kathleen Halloran.
“We are thrilled to receive the $1.65M in funding from the federal government for two new electric buses and electric charging infrastructure,” Halloran said. “This will add to the four electric buses we currently have operating, one of which was also funded from a federal grant.”