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November 16, 2012
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County declines to commit $2M to underpass funding

CARBONDALE, Colorado - Town leaders on Tuesday pressed the Garfield County commissioners for $2 million to help with looming improvements to Highway 133 through town, particularly with a pedestrian underpass at the intersection with Main Street.

But the commissioners - John Martin, Mike Samson and Tom Jankovsky - declined to commit to anything, beyond a general agreement to provide some financial help with the project.

"We're open to your requests," said Jankovsky, whose district includes Carbondale. "We'd like it to be specific, though."

"We will help you out," added Martin at the end of the meeting, but none of the commissioners agreed to a specific amount.

The trustees' request came at a joint meeting with the board of county commissioners (BOCC) on Tuesday evening, after the trustees met with representatives of the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) about the upcoming highway project.

The town, working with CDOT, has been preparing to widen the highway to three lanes, with a turning lane in the center, and to build at least one roundabout at the intersection of the highway and Main Street, among other work.

The underpass idea has resulted from concerns about pedestrian safety at the roundabout.

Roland Wagner, CDOT's resident engineer for Glenwood Springs, estimated that installing an underpass beneath the Main Street roundabout would cost about the same as an underpass at a roundabout in the Willits subdivision in Basalt, or approximately $1.2 million.

But Wagner said the cost could vary depending on where the underpass is built, on the north side of the roundabout or on the south side. The south side will be narrower because it is not part of the immediate road-widening project, he explained, so an underpass there could be shorter and less expensive.

Trustees John Foulkrod and Frosty Merriott, however, both said they thought the town should ask for approximately $2 million to cover unexpected cost increases.

"That's our 'ask,'" said Foulkrod, referring to the term the BOCC members applied to the request. "If we can do it for cheaper, we will. But I think it's very important to do the whole project [including the underpass], and not piecemeal."

Although the commissioners seemed open to the request, they urged the town to take its application to the new Federal Mineral Leasing District board, which now disperses mineral lease revenues that used to go through the hands of the BOCC.

The mayor, however, worried that going through the FMLD would be slower than appealing to the BOCC, and might interfere with the project's timing.

No decisions were made at the meeting, but the town is expected to move ahead with its request for county funds.

jcolson@postindependent.com


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The Post Independent Updated Nov 16, 2012 01:06AM Published Nov 16, 2012 01:05AM Copyright 2012 The Post Independent. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.