New Castle and Glenwood fall short in effort to secure TAP dollars
New Castle and Glenwood Springs will have to look elsewhere for funding two transportation-related projects after failing to make the cut for federal grant funding.
Both New Castle’s request for planning dollars for a segment of the Lower Valley (LoVa) Trail and Glenwood’s request to help implement the WE-cycle bike-share program fell outside the range for projects receiving federal Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) funds, the Colorado Department of Transportation announced Friday.
The department received 13 “competitive and strong applications” for the nearly $3.9 million in TAP funding that will be distributed in CDOT’s northwestern region over the next three years. All 13 projects were ranked based on the strength of the proposal. The top five will be funded, and there is a possibility that money may become available for other high-ranking projects.
New Castle’s request for $140,080 to begin designing a 2.4-mile stretch of trail between Canyon Creek and South Canyon was ranked eighth.
Glenwood Springs and the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority had requested $500,000 to implement the WE-cycle program, which currently operates in Aspen and Basalt. The idea of establishing the program in Glenwood gained steam as stakeholders looked at different methods to reduce vehicle traffic during the three-month Grand Avenue bridge closure set to start in August 2017. The city gave $75,000 in matching funds, and RFTA was willing to contribute another $50,000.
However, even with the TAP grant, WE-cycle would not have been up and running until 2018, said Tanya Allen, Glenwood Springs’ transportation manager. The city has moved forward with other measures intended to reduce traffic, including expediting projects such as the 14th Street pedestrian bridge.
Allen said there has not been a specific conversation with City Council about pursuing other funding options for a bike-share program.
“Council really feels this was a great project, and that a bike sharing program in general is consistent with the types of goals the city has,” she said.
Although the TAP decision is disappointing, New Castle will pursue other money sources for planning the segment of LoVa.
“When you lose one you just put your head down and move forward with more determination than you had before to get it done,” said Greg Russi, a New Castle councilor who, prior to rejoining council in September, served as special projects director in a volunteer capacity.
New Castle has aggressively pursued funding to help connect the town with the completed portion in Glenwood of the LoVa Trail, a long-envisioned project that would connect all the Garfield County communities along the Colorado River.
Engineering is underway for a roughly 4.1-mile stretch of trail between New Castle and Canyon Creek. The hope is to have that segment pretty much shovel ready in the first quarter of 2017. The TAP grant would have paid for planning from Canyon Creek to South Canyon.
On other end, the city of Glenwood is seeking a $75,000 planning grant through Great Outdoors Colorado to close a gap in the LoVa Trail between west Glenwood and South Canyon.
The fact the planning grant did not receive funding was surprising, given the collaborative nature of the proposal, Russi said.
The city of Glenwood Springs, Garfield County, RFTA and LiveWell all signed letters of support and agreed to put up matching money, along with New Castle, for the TAP grant. The fact that New Castle was not awarded the grant likely speaks to the severity of the needs in the communities that were awarded money, Russi said.
“This is a tough one because we put in a lot of work,” he added. “It’s just a process where you keep going.”
New Castle has already started initial conversations with other entities, including Gov. John Hickenlooper’s office, to try and pursue other funding sources, Tom Baker, town administrator, said Friday. The governor listed the LoVa Trail as one of the highest priority trail projects in the entire state through his “16 in 2016” initiative.
Meanwhile, Russi said the town will likely start the process of engaging the public on the stretch of trail currently under design in January or possibly sooner. There are three different alignments being considered, and the public’s input will be vital in finalizing the design, he added.
Glenwood Springs expects to learn if it was successful with its GOCO planning grant in early December.
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