$1.4M road grant gets preliminary OK

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A state advisory committee for Colorado's Energy and Mineral Impact Fund unanimously recommended that Routt County's grant request for $1.4 million to upgrade Twentymile Road be funded in full.

Considering that the suggested maximum grant for the Energy Impact Fund is about one-third of that value, the grant application was "well received," said Routt County Commissioner Dan Ellison, who presented the grant request at the state committee's meeting Wednesday in Edwards.

"I was surprised to get everybody to fall in line like that," Ellison said.

It helped a lot, he said, that the project is strongly supported by local coal and energy producers, and fits well with the goals of the Energy and Mineral Impact Fund, which taxes energy and mineral producers and then gives grants to counties and towns that are affected by the energy industry.

In the next few weeks, the director of Colorado's Department of Local Affairs will decide whether or how much of the grant request will be awarded, Ellison said.

If awarded, the funds would go toward a $2.6 million project on Twentymile Road, also known as 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. The funds from the coal and energy companies are generated through county fees for road maintenance.

The grant would be used for the third and final phase of a project to reconstruct, realign and overlay a 7.1-mile section of section of the road. The first two phases also were partially funded with grants from the Energy and Mineral Impact Fund.

Routt County Commissioner Nancy Stahoviak, who is on the state advisory committee, said she felt the presentation before the committee went very well. Although grant requests of this size are unusual, they have been granted in the past, mostly for road projects, she said.

This project was the only request coming from towns and groups in Routt County. Overall, counties across the state requested more than $18 million for more than $47 million worth of projects this cycle.

Nearby Moffat County has submitted two grant requests for this cycle, which were discussed Wednesday. One is for $655,000 to buy the Craig Armory building, which is being used for a youth center and the Crisis Stabilization Unit.

Because a $400,000 Energy Impact Grant was awarded a few years ago to upgrade the building, contributing to the building's high appraisal, the committee recommended that a compromised solution be pursued, Stahoviak said.

The second is for $263,000, most of which would allow the Moffat County Independent Living Center to pay off its debt and become self-sufficient. That sort of request is not typical, Stahoviak said, and the committee decided it would like to see a cash match from the county.

-- To reach Susan Bacon, call 871-4203

or e-mail sbacon@steamboatpilot.com

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