Steamboat Springs A roundtable discussion this week will look at the challenges of keeping up with Colorado's transportation needs as the state struggles to finance road and bridge projects on a tightened budget.
The committee for the Northwest Transportation Planning Region meets Thursday afternoon in the courthouse annex to consider the future of transportation projects in a five-county region.
Representatives from Rio Blanco, Moffat, Jackson, Grand and Routt counties, as well as personnel from the state Transportation Department, will participate in the dialogue.
Routt County Commissioner Dan Ellison serves as vice chairperson of the committee.
Funds previously directed toward the repair or construction of roads and bridges in the state have been trimmed in an effort to deal with a smaller state budget, he said.
"Now that the economy is in a period of setback, transportation money has not been available as it has been in the past," Ellison said. "Projects have been getting stretched out."
That means counties and municipalities must wait longer to see their submitted projects materialize.
One project on the waiting list for funding that will materialize is the replacement of a bridge over the Colorado River south of Kremmling.
One proposal possibly looming in the works is the repair of portions of U.S. 40 and Colorado Highway 9.
U.S. 40 from Kremmling to Craig has been identified as a particular stretch of road that needs attention, as well as the Highway 9 corridor.
Although those roads cover a significant area of Northwest Colorado, committee members are considering addressing repairs as a whole.
"This will be talked about for the first time as a single project," Ellison said.
"From the state perspective, this should be looked at as one big project."
Repairs, however, would take place over a period of time, he added.
Improvements that have been suggested include shoulder work along stretches near Muddy Pass and Rabbit Ears Pass and the addition of passing lanes between Steamboat and Craig.
Ellison would not speculate on a timeline for the project, but he admitted improvements would likely not happen as quickly as anticipated.
Two years ago, he said, people on the committee would have thought there was a real chance of getting some segments of U.S. 40 and Highway 9 completed sooner rather than later.
"But maybe now it will go on for a while," he said.