Vail Pass on Colorado’s $1.6 billion road wish list
VAIL, Colorado ” Vail Pass is on Colorado’s $1.6-billlion wish list of highway projects the state says could be funded by a federal stimulus package, but it’s highly unlikely all will get support.
The projects include $50 million for a full reconstruction of a stretch of U.S. Highway 36 in Boulder County and an $8 million resurfacing of a 15-mile stretch of westbound Interstate 70 between Vail Pass and Silverthorne, including deck repairs to three bridges. Both are listed in a top tier of projects for their respective regions on a list developed by the Colorado Department of Transportation.
The state’s 11 appointed transportation commissioners are expected to approve a final list as early as next week, transportation spokeswoman Stacey Stegman said Thursday. Some backup projects could be added, but no substantial changes are expected.
The draft document has a separate $268 million wish list for transit projects.
Tops on that list is $18.6 million for work at Denver’s historic Union Station, which the city wants to turn into a transportation hub. It includes beginning construction on an underground regional and local bus station there, said Scott Reed, a spokesman for Denver’s Regional Transportation District.
Denver also wants to build a light rail station and a commuter rail station at Union Station and extend the 16th Street Mall Shuttle to the station.
Colorado is only expected to get about $425 million for highway projects and another $100 million for transit projects from the stimulus package. Stegman said the department wanted to have more than enough projects lined up in case any fall through because of problems with gaining rights of way or getting supplies.
About $745 million worth of highway projects would be ready to begin within 90 to 180 days of getting federal money. Other projects were added in case some states can’t spend all their stimulus money in time and Congress gives others a chance to compete for that money, Stegman said.
CDOT began compiling the list back in late December. It held meetings with mayors, city council members and planners across the state without any idea how much money the state could get, Stegman said.
The list includes three tiers of projects, labeled A, B, and C, for each of the state’s six transportation regions.
Commissioners developed an “A” list of projects based on what Colorado could do with $250 million. The “B” list includes more that could be done if the state got up to $500 million. Projects on the “C” list are backups in case more money becomes available but some projects aren’t shovel-ready.
Stegman said highway money would be distributed to the six regions according to a formula based on population and lane miles ” the same way other federal highway funds are. Regional CDOT staffers and planning agencies would make final decisions on which projects to do. Choices also could be based on how fast the money has to be spent.
Transportation legislation sometimes requires that certain amounts of money be spent on metropolitan areas. In Colorado, that means that some money might have to be spent in Denver, Fort Collins and Greeley and Colorado Springs, which would influence spending in other areas.
The draft list includes many smaller projects, such as $900,000 for new storm sewers and handicap-accessible sidewalks in Cheyenne Wells. Other projects include variable message signs and adding shoulders in part to make roads safer for cyclists.
Between Austin and Hotchkiss, a West Slope town of 1,000 people, two-lane Colorado 92 is in line to get an 8-foot shoulder. Hotchkiss mayor Larry Jakubiak said the road can get backed up with ranchers hauling their livestock, commuters and cyclists all trying to get through.
“People are going to feel better driving that road,” he said the proposed $11.9 million project.
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Draft list of transportation projects: