South bridge funding suffers setback
After taking a big step forward earlier this year toward securing funding for a south bridge project, Glenwood Springs recently suffered several smaller setbacks.City officials were told earlier this year they would receive some $6.2 million in federal funding toward the project, which would extend Midland Avenue to a new bridge over the Roaring Fork River south of Glenwood, and on to Highway 82, reducing traffic congestion in town.However, the Colorado Department of Transportation recently told city officials the federal funding would amount to only $5 million.CDOT also delivered more bad news, Glenwood City Manager Jeff Hecksel said. For one thing, the state doesn’t plan to contribute any money toward the project because of its tight financial situation. The city had assumed CDOT might contribute toward the cost of a new intersection where the south bridge route would meet Highway 82.Second, CDOT said a study that will be required in exchange for receiving the federal funds could cost $1 million to $2 million – more than the city had expected.The study would consist of looking at alternate routes for the south bridge. At least one could involve crossing the current municipal airport property and closing the airport. City residents voted to keep the facility open in 1997.Initially, U.S. Rep. John Salazar, D-Manassa, had sought $6.5 million for the south bridge project. But a compromise bill resulted in a 20 percent cut in the dollar amounts for all House projects, leaving $5.2 million for the south bridge work. However, U.S. Sen. Wayne Allard, R-Colo., reportedly was able to obtain $1 million in additional funds for the project.But Hecksel said that apparently, the final bill had vagaries in how funding for various projects was allocated. By the time things were straightened out in Congress, Glenwood ended up with only $5 million.Hecksel said the recent meeting with CDOT raised some serious questions for city officials.”These are a lot of changes that have been thrown at the city in terms of where the money is going to come from for this project,” he said.Still, “We’re going to move ahead in terms of continuing to analyze what the cost of the project is – who would do what and what it’s likely to cost.”Earlier, and perhaps dated, estimates have placed the total south bridge project at some $12 million. The city also is hoping Garfield County contributes to its funding.`
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