Federal stimulus could benefit Glenwood Springs area highway projects | PostIndependent.com

Federal stimulus could benefit Glenwood Springs area highway projects

Kelley Cox Post Independent

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado ” A plan to improve the highway interchange at Interstate 70 Exit 116, as well as to finish paving on I-70 from Glenwood to No Name, are on the Colorado Department of Transportation’s preliminary list of priorities for funding as part of the anticipated federal stimulus package.

The Colorado Transportation Commission, at a workshop last week in Denver, gave preliminary approval to a priority list of 99 road projects and 23 transit projects totaling nearly $1 billion throughout the state. However, the state is anticipating receiving only about half that amount, at most.

“The commission approved a draft list, but it’s not a final list by any means,” CDOT spokesperson Stacey Stegman said Friday. “Nor does it indicate what projects we’ll build in order.”

The projects, divided into A, B and C levels of priority, would be in line for federal funding should Congress and the Obama administration be successful in pushing through such a program.

The “A” list includes highway and transit projects that would be considered if Colorado received $250 million in federal dollars, Stegman said, while the “B” list contains additional projects if the state gets up to $522 million. Additional “C” list projects could move up if some of the higher priority projects fall through.

Among the top 5 priorities for CDOT’s Region 3, which covers the northwestern part of the state, is a $2.5 million project to make safety and configuration improvements to the intersection of I-70, U.S. Route 6 (Sixth Street) and State Highway 82 in Glenwood Springs.

According to Joe Elsen, Region 3 program engineer for eastern Garfield County, the project would involve adding an extra lane to the westbound I-70 onramp and the eastbound offramp, plus a dual turn lane from Sixth Street onto eastbound Highway 82/Grand Avenue.

It would also include computer equipment to better coordinate the traffic signals at the I-70 offramp and the intersections of Sixth and Laurel and Sixth and Pine streets, Elsen said. The project is slated to be put out to bid in June if the funding comes through.

“I’m glad to see that this little project qualifies, along with the other projects in the area that might benefit us,” Glenwood Springs City Councilman Dave Sturges said.

“We have a lot of projects in this area that need to be done but are not funded because of the state’s difficulty in finding a sustainable revenue stream for transportation and transit,” said Sturges, who is the city’s representative on the I-70 Coalition as well as the Northwest Council of Governments.

Leading the “A list” of highway projects in the region is a $13 million reconstruction and widening of State Highway 13 at Rio Blanco Hill between Rifle and Meeker, including passing lanes.

A number of other area highway projects are on the state’s preliminary B list, including:

– Completion of I-70 resurfacing between South Canyon and No Name ($8 million);

– State Highway 82 wildlife safety fencing between Glenwood Springs and Aspen ($1 million); and,

– State Highway 133 resurfacing near Redstone ($10.5 million).

The Roaring Fork Transportation Authority, which runs the valleywide bus system between Aspen and Rifle, would also stand to benefit from federal funding. RFTA was given the fourth-highest priority on the draft list for a $1.8 million plan to install traffic signal prioritization for buses at six key intersections along Highway 82. The project is part of RFTA’s Bus Rapid Transit expansion plan.

Another RFTA project given secondary priority would entail $10 million in improvements to the bus maintenance facility in Aspen.

Stegman said the commission is hoping to hear by mid-February how much funding may be coming to Colorado.

“There’s still a lot of give and take as these projects are really scrutinized,” she said. “There may be projects that aren’t really ready to go that will be taken off the list.”

Stegman also cautioned that the stimulus package could include language that dictates how and where the money is spent, for instance in places that are more economically depressed than others. That could move some projects ahead of others on the state’s list, she said.

Contact John Stroud: 384-9160


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