State mulls energy impact grant

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Routt County's request for $1.4 million to finish upgrades to Twentymile Road will be heard today by the state advisory committee for Colorado's Energy and Mineral Impact Fund.

If granted, the funds would go toward a $2.6 million project on Routt County Road 27, which connects Colorado Highway 131 and U.S. Highway 40.

The balance of the project would be funded with $170,000 from the county, $450,000 from Twentymile Coal Co. and $560,000 from Xcel Energy.

After the state committee makes a recommendation about whether the grant should be funded, the director of the Department of Local Affairs will make a final decision.

This project is exactly the sort of project for which the Energy and Mineral Impact Fund was designed, Routt County Commissioner Doug Monger said. The fund taxes energy and mineral producers and then gives grants to counties and towns that are impacted by the energy industry.

Twentymile Coaland Xcel Energy are partners on the project, which the company appreciates, Routt County Commissioner Dan Ellison said.

This request would fund the third and final phase of a project to reconstruct, realign and overlay a 7.1-mile section of the road. This phase is for the last 3.1 miles and involves $1.2 million in reconstruction work.

The first two phases were partially funded with grants from the Energy and Mineral Impact Fund.

Twentymile Coal hauls about 200,000 tons of coal on the road each year, which makes for about 22 round trips a day, according to the county's application for the grant.

By reconstructing and rehabilitating the road, it will be strong enough to support the frequent truck traffic and to be safe for all users, the application states.

The grant request from Routt County is the only request coming from towns and groups in the county for this grant cycle.

Routt County Commissioner Nancy Stahoviak, who is on the state advisory committee, said counties across the state requested more than $18 million toward more than $47 million worth of projects for this cycle.

Most of the grant requests are for public-facility, road and street or water and sewer projects.

Nearby Moffat County has submitted two grant requests for this cycle. One is for $655,000 to buy the Craig Armory building, which is being used for a youth center and the Crisis Stabilization Unit. The second is for $263,000, most of which would allow the Moffat County Independent Living Center to pay off its debt and so become self sufficient. That sort of request is not typical, Stahoviak said.

The state committee considers each request separately, paying attention to how requests are prioritized locally. It focuses on impacts the area has from energy and mineral development.

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