Federal grant strings make Glenwood’s South Midland rebuild a bit bumpier
February 8, 2019
When a government body – or anybody for that matter – acquires $7 million, it’s usually cause for celebration.
However, when it comes to the $7 million federal Better Utilizing Investment to Leverage Development (BUILD) grant allocated to help rebuild the bumpy stretch of South Midland Avenue in Glenwood Springs – and the various strings attached – City Council’s enthusiasm has waned some.
"I'm not upset that we got a $7 million BUILD grant, don't get me wrong," Glenwood City Councilor Jonathan Godes said at Thursday night Council meeting. "This is a disappointing result of a fantastic thing."
Last December, Glenwood Springs learned it was the recipient of the $7 million grant earmarked to bolster the city's long-sought-after plan to reconstruct South Midland, replace and upgrade the waterline that serves the South Glenwood area and add broadband infrastructure.
The South Midland project and subsequent related work was slated for construction this year, but with a laundry list of federal requirements tied to the BUILD grant money, that start date will undoubtedly get pushed back and the project's cost will likely go up, city officials have said.
City Council's latest discussion concerning South Midland's reconstruction debated whether the city should spend an additional $8,000 to develop alternate bidding methods to accelerate the project's timeline.
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"I certainly would support spending the $8,000 if it gives us options, but that's plural," Councilor Steve Davis said.
In the grand scheme of the project's overall cost, $8,000 was miniscule compared to the current 90 percent design estimate of approximately $12.2 million.
The consultant, Glenwood Springs engineering firm SGM, floated the idea of opening one lane of traffic during construction as a possible project timeline accelerator. But that thought quickly drowned in council discussion.
While the notion of only one lane of traffic being open at night was a bit nauseating for councilors to hear, having only one lane open during the day, simply put, was unpalatable, they said.
"I still have significant reservations over the overall concept of the project," Mayor Michael Gamba said, citing the federal constraints clouding South Midland's reconstruction timeline. "We are building one of the most expensive mile of road in the county, and it doesn't need to be this way. We can still get the same end result."
Ultimately, City Council unanimously approved spending the additional $8,000 to develop the alternate construction schedule options, in an effort to speed up the project's eventual completion.
"[The BUILD grant] will extend our timeline a little bit. It might cost a little more, but we still got a $7 million dollar grant and we are going to come out with it, I would suspect, at least $6 million ahead," Councilor Shelley Kaup said in support of honoring the grant requirement.