Counties compromise to bid for $17 million in state grants | CraigDailyPress.com
YOUR AD HERE »

Counties compromise to bid for $17 million in state grants

Collin Smith

By the numbers

The Moffat, Rio Blanco and Garfield county commissions agreed to support one another's grant requests to the Colorado Department of Local Affairs. Officials said each county makes up part of an important transportation corridor for the energy industry.

The individual projects are:

• $2 million for five miles of Moffat County Road 4, located in the northern part of the county, near the Hiawatha natural gas fields.

• $5 million for 10 miles of Rio Blanco County Road 5, which is the only heavy truck access into Piceance Basin.

• $10 million to expand the Parachute exit off Interstate 70 in Garfield County, which is a primary bedroom community for Western Slope energy development.

By the numbers

The Moffat, Rio Blanco and Garfield county commissions agreed to support one another’s grant requests to the Colorado Department of Local Affairs. Officials said each county makes up part of an important transportation corridor for the energy industry.

The individual projects are:

• $2 million for five miles of Moffat County Road 4, located in the northern part of the county, near the Hiawatha natural gas fields.

• $5 million for 10 miles of Rio Blanco County Road 5, which is the only heavy truck access into Piceance Basin.

• $10 million to expand the Parachute exit off Interstate 70 in Garfield County, which is a primary bedroom community for Western Slope energy development.

— With $17 million in grants on the line, Moffat County and two of its neighbors hope a recent partnership will put them at the top of the state’s funding list.

Commissioners from Moffat, Rio Blanco and Garfield counties met last week in Rifle and formed a grant coalition of three counties, each agreeing to support construction projects for the other two.

At stake is a one-time $17 million grant fund from the Colorado Department of Local Affairs.

The various commissioners agreed to support $2 million to put an asphalt overlay on five miles of Moffat County Road 4 near Hiawatha, $5 million for a 10-mile overlay on Rio Blanco County Road 5 into the Piceance Basin, and $10 million to expand the Parachute exit off Interstate 70 in Garfield County.

Moffat County Commissioner Tom Mathers said each of the roads is a link in the transportation corridor between Colorado and Wyoming and heavily used by the energy industry.

The grant money is made up of federal mineral lease revenue, such as tax payments for coal, which have been kept in reserve until this year, when the Colorado Legislature ordered the money released.

The money can only be used for infrastructure projects in counties impacted by energy development, and the Moffat County Commission hopes that will be its hook for funding.

“We’re right in the middle of it all because of the traffic, but we don’t get the better side of (development), because there isn’t much drilling here,” Mathers said.

Each of the projects is important, though, he added.

Commissioner Audrey Danner said she hopes the state will look favorably at the cooperation and compromise between the grant coalition members.

“I understand we are, by nature, competing for those dollars,” she said. “But, if we work together, we could have a better chance at that money.”

Bringing home grant dollars is particularly important for local officials these days, because there may not be much available in coming years.

All three Moffat County commissioners have expressed anxiety in the past about DOLA’s dwindling grant funds – because of the drop-off in energy industry activity and subsequent production taxes – and worry the state agency will be even more cash-strapped in the future.

Without DOLA funds, several county projects will have to be rethought, most notably annual maintenance on paved roads, which total about 100 miles. Officials have said that without DOLA support, the county may have to turn some paved roads back to gravel, which is cheaper to maintain.

Mathers was not holding out hope that Moffat County would get its full $2 million request, however, even if DOLA approves the project.

“Other counties are putting in, and they’ll get some of that, is what we’re hearing,” he said. “We’re going to get a portion of what we asked for, most likely, and out of that portion, we’ll do what we can.”


Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Craig and Moffat County make the Craig Press’ work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.

For tax deductible donations, click here.
 

Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.

User Legend: iconModerator iconTrusted User