Officials to discuss congestion at Parachute I-70 interchange |

Officials to discuss congestion at Parachute I-70 interchange

Phillip YatesGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado

PARACHUTE, Colorado – Western state legislative leaders, Parachute town officials and county commissioners are meeting today to discuss the future of the Parachute interchange off of Interstate 70. Rep. Kathleen Curry, D-Gunnison, helped organize today’s meeting after hearing several concerns about the interchange, which is often congested with area residents’ cars and natural gas industry vehicles.”I think we need to address the issue immediately,” Curry told Garfield County commissioners on Monday. “I hate when we talk and talk and don’t get anything done. We need to get everyone in one room and find out where the obstacles are.” State Rep. Al White, R-Hayden, Rep. Bernie Buescher, D-Grand Junction, and Sen. Josh Penry, R-Grand Junction, along with Parachute Mayor Roy McClung and some Garfield County commissioners and county staff, are expected to attend the meeting. However, Curry said she will not be there because she has to go to a funeral.The Colorado Department of Local Affairs has recently awarded an $800,000 grant for improvements to the interchange, with the county chipping in another $200,000, said Garfield County Commissioner John Martin, who plans to attend today’s meeting.That grant will pay for improvements such as traffic signals and widening of lanes, he said.Martin said that is a just temporary fix and that a permanent $30 million solution for the interchange could be in the offing by the use of severance tax credits. That is a topic that is expected to be discussed today, Martin said.Energy companies could possibly contribute all of the cost of the project upfront, and then receive severance tax credits for their participation. Those credits would reduce the companies’ total severance tax bills as much as 50 percent each year until the entire project is completely paid for, Martin said.The severance tax is imposed upon nonrenewable natural resources – such as natural gas – that are removed from the earth, according to the state.Curry said there are worries that severance tax credits would reduce severance tax money that flows back to governments and organizations in Colorado.In early June, commissioners voted to approve an agreement with Chevron that calls for the company to contribute $25 million toward the refurbishing of County Road 204 and that also requires the commissioners to support the company’s efforts to receive severance tax credits for the project.The commissioners on Monday also voted to contribute $100,000 to a study for a new interchange that might be built west of the current one. The county has already contributed $50,000 to that study.Contact Phillip Yates: 384-9117pyates@postindependent.comPost Independent, Glenwood Springs, Colorado CO

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