Late Thursday afternoon, cars drive south into Craig along Colorado Highway 13, near the intersection of U.S. Highway 40. Local and state officials long have discussed the importance of renovating Highway 13 north of Craig to make it safe for motorists, but the project was not included on the Colorado Department of Transportation's list projects receiving federal recovery funding.

Photo by Hans Hallgren

Late Thursday afternoon, cars drive south into Craig along Colorado Highway 13, near the intersection of U.S. Highway 40. Local and state officials long have discussed the importance of renovating Highway 13 north of Craig to make it safe for motorists, but the project was not included on the Colorado Department of Transportation's list projects receiving federal recovery funding.

Moffat County left out of road recovery bill projects

The first trickle of dollars from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Bill of 2009 hit the Colorado Department of Transportation on Feb. 19, though no Moffat County projects are on the agency's go-ahead list.

The one road project most discussed by Craig and Moffat County officials - repairing Colorado Highway 13 north to the Wyoming border - remains in the department's catalog of things to do.

County Budget Analyst Tinneal Gerber said she wasn't surprised to see Highway 13 north of Craig remain unfunded because CDOT never rated the project high on its recovery bill agenda.

Still, the lack of shock value didn't make her any less disappointed.

"It's been one of those projects that everybody has agreed for a long time that something needs to be done," Gerber said. "I just thought it would have been included."

The Colorado Transportation Commission, which oversees CDOT, approved $325.8 million in recovery bill expenses for statewide transportation projects.

CDOT is slated to receive $317 million for highways and another $12.5 million for rural transit projects from the federal government. The state, including local transit authorities, expects to get more than $500 million for transportation in general.

Out of the CDOT funds, Western Slope communities project to get $40.3 million for four different projects, including reconstructing five miles of Colorado Highway 13 in Rio Blanco County between Meeker and Rifle.

The Denver metro area expects to collect the most money for the most projects of any region in Colorado, with $97.1 million funding 14 projects.

U.S. Rep. John Salazar, D-Colo., said that although certain communities will not receive funds in the current spending package, there will be more opportunities for funding in the future.

"While not every community is represented in the first round of funding on this list, it is a good first step," Salazar said. "One that our nation must take to get Americans back to work."

Transportation Commission Chairman Bill Kaufman said he looks forward to future spending packages. The first one was helpful but not enough.

"The $1.4 billion in projects we had on our initial list far exceeds the $317 million we expect to receive," he said. "We have many more projects we can accelerate should Colorado receive more funding from this program."

Kaufman pointed out that CDOT's list of approved projects is not final. The recovery bill requires CDOT commit 50 percent of its allocation within 120 days and the rest within one year of receiving the funds.

The Federal Highway Administration plans to deliver the money by March 10. Kaufman said that's little enough time the department may have to put approved projects by the wayside in favor of others with a faster turnaround.

Colorado officials expect the state to directly receive about $2 billion from the recovery bill, some of which will be available for local governments to apply for.

Local officials remain unsure of what their next move is supposed to be, however.

"We haven't been told how to do it, yet," Craig City Manager Jim Ferree said. "But, yeah, we'll go after it once we figure out what to go after."

Comments

Neal Harkner 5 years, 1 month ago

The money's gonna go where the population and growth is. Moffat County isn't dying but people aren't beating the doors down to move there, either. The population has grown just 3.5% (or about 500 people) since 2000.

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lonelyone 5 years, 1 month ago

I saw the website and there is an awful lot of money going Colorado Springs......at least they were on the list many times over. I only notice one town on the western slope, but there were towns listed that I had never heard of so don't have any idea where they might be. Once again, we're left high and dry!

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