Bus center cost puts projects on hold

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— A higher-than-expected bid for the expansion of the Steamboat Springs Transit Center will cause the city to look for alternative funding for rehabilitating the Craig regional transit center and delay purchasing a bus.

The projected $1.5 million cost of the project was $517,000 more than expected. The project includes a 6,000-square-foot bus storage expansion and a 1,000-square-foot expansion for administrative offices in the building on 13th Street.

The city had hoped a $727,880 grant from the Federal Transit Administration in 2003, combined with a city match of $181,970, would cover the project. But when the city requested the federal funds two years ago, City Deputy Manager Wendy DuBord said officials had not anticipated adding more office space, dealing with wetland issues or the increasing costs of steel, fuel and landscaping.

To cover the increasing costs, the city wants to use 2004 FTA money earmarked for other projects, DuBord said.

The City Council approved the juggling of funds at Tuesday's council meeting and the FTA has approved changing the use of the funds.

The city was granted $897,000 in federal funds for 2004 with a city match of $125,000, which was intended for rehabilitating the regional transit facility in Craig and for purchasing one of three new buses for the Steamboat to Craig route.

The city will purchase two of three coach buses needed for the regional bus route, DuBord said, and plan to purchase the third, which would cost about $375,000, with 2005 funds.

After covering the costs of the city's transit center expansion, the city plans to spend the rest of the 2004 federal grant on the Craig expansion.

The city also has applied for a $600,000 Energy Impact Assistance grant. In a memo to the City Council, DuBord stated that if the funding from the Energy Impact grant did not come through, the development of a regional transit facility in Craig would be postponed or canceled.

DuBord said Tuesday that the city has submitted an Energy Impact grant application to the local board, which prioritizes all the requests from Routt County. The grant requests then are passed onto the state level.

Because Energy Impact grants are on three-month cycles and work was not planned to start on the Craig center until the fall, DuBord said if the grant was award, the project would not be postponed.

"I am very sure there are some Energy Impact funds for that," DuBord said and noted a local match would come from Craig and Moffat County.

-- To reach Christine Metz call 871-4229

or e-mail cmetz@steamboatpilot.com

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