Will Barack Obama help in Eagle County? | VailDaily.com

Will Barack Obama help in Eagle County?

Chris Outcalt
Eagle County, CO Colorado

EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado ” Eagle County continues to try to prepare itself to get some of the federal money president-elect Barack Obama plans to make available for infrastructure projects in Colorado and the U.S.

Obama has said he will create the largest public works construction program since the interstate highway system half a century ago. The plan ” which could include $700 billion for infrastructure projects ” is designed to create new jobs and boost the economy.

The county started to identify a list of projects that might warrant federal money a month ago. Tuesday, the commissioners spent an hour talking to Louis Dupart, a Washington lobbyist with The Normandy Group, about getting money for two projects in particular: Replacing the Red Cliff wastewater treatment plant and constructing an Interstate 70 interchange that run directly to the Eagle County Airport.

“It’s incumbent on us to make sure we’re prepared,” said Commissioner Sara Fisher. “What we’re hearing is that if you can be timely and initiate something in less than a year, you have a chance.”

Dupart told the commissioners that officials in Sen. Ken Salazar’s office said getting money for the Red Cliff project was high priority.

“They want this done,” Dupart said Tuesday during a conference call from Washington. “Normally they don’t say it’s a high priority.”

Even with Salazar accepting a position as Secretary of the Interior, he’d still be a senator long enough to make sure the Red Cliff project gets funding, Dupart said.

Design of a highway interchange near the county airport is about 70 percent complete, officials said.

“They key is getting ready to go,” Commissioner Peter Runyon said. “And we’re spending a lot of time getting the final dots on this.”

Fisher said the two projects have been considered for county funding for the past several years and Obama’s plan provides a chance to move them forward.

“These have been on our working list,” FIsher said. “In many respects, if we had the money without the federal dollars we’d move them forward.”

The federal infrastructure money would be given to states to divide up for specific projects, Dupart said.

It’s tough to determine what chance the county has of getting some federal money, Fisher said.

“We just don’t know,” she said. “But if we’re prepared we should have every reason to be successful.”

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

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