County wants $1.4M for roads

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Routt County will submit only one grant request to the Energy and Mineral Impact Assistance Program in the upcoming funding cycle, but it is for more money than all five applications in the last cycle.

The Routt County Road and Bridge Department is requesting $1.4 million to renovate a 3-mile section of Routt County Road 27 (Twentymile Road) to create "a roadway structurally and geometrically adequate" to better accommodate coal truck traffic and make the road safer for all traffic, according to the grant application.

The total project cost is estimated at more than $2.57 million, and Routt County is requesting the grant money be distributed in $700,000 sums in 2005 and 2006. The county is submitting the application now so it will know how to prepare its 2005 and 2006 budgets, Routt County Commissioner Doug Monger said.

The improvements are needed because of damage to the road and sharp curves that force traffic to slow down for safety's sake, Monger said. The speed limit varies from 55 mph to 35 mph.

Combined with another 5-mile section that was improved in 1999 and 2000, the proposed project should bring the average speed limit closer to 50 mph along the entire stretch of road, Monger said.

The section in question is about three miles south of C.R. 27's intersection with U.S. Highway 40, east of Hayden.

"This is a critical part of our infrastructure," Monger said. "It's a great project, and it really fits the grant program's intent for mining and mineral development."

Since 1999, Twentymile Coal Co. has been hauling coal from its mine, which is about halfway between Hayden and Oak Creek, along C.R. 27, as part of its route to sell coal in Rock Springs, Wyo. The company hauls about 145,000 tons of coal per year on the route. For every ton hauled, Twentymile pays Routt County $1, as specified in a special use permit to haul the coal on C.R. 27, Monger said.

This money, more than $400,000, will be used to help supplement the remaining project cost, Monger said.

Also, Twentymile delivers 200,000 tons of coal per year to the Hayden Station power plant to complement the main supply from Seneca Coal Co. For every ton Twentymile delivers to the plant, the Hayden Station gives $2 to Routt County. The money, which has totaled almost $600,000 to date, also will be used to supplement the remaining cost of improving C.R. 27, Monger said.

The Routt County Board of Commissioners will review the application at a 9:30 a.m. meeting March 9 and will hear public comments.

The Colorado Department of Local Affairs operates the Energy and Mineral Impact Assistance Program.

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