Routt County loses out on $15.5M road grant

Routt won’t receive stimulus funds; pursuit of rights of way continues

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— County commissioners learned late last week that Routt County will not receive the $15.5 million federal stimulus grant they were counting on to rebuild five miles of Routt County Road 14 on the way to Stagecoach. But by Monday morning, they had returned to the details of purchasing rights of way on private land adjacent to the road about 15 miles south of Steamboat Springs.

“It was disappointing, of course,” Commissioner Diane Mitsch Bush said. “Our staff worked very hard on this from June through September. It was the most competitive federal grant in memory.”

The commissioners voted, 2-1, in August 2009 to budget $1.3 million for acquiring rights of way needed to make the reconstruction and widening of the troublesome stretch of C.R. 14 shovel ready in time to leverage the stimulus dollars.

The road carries all kinds of vehicular traffic, Mitsch Bush said, from daily commuters going to and from work in Steamboat, to people hauling boats and campers to Stagecoach State Park, all of it averaging 2,300 daily trips.

Commissioner Doug Mon­ger was skeptical of Routt County’s chances of getting the grant last summer and voted against spending the money for the rights of way, but now that $300,000 has been invested, he’s on board.

“We moved forward, so we’re going to continue to move forward,” Monger said. “We need to complete this part of the process so that we have the rights of way in hand. Short of restoring employees’ salaries, it’s probably one of our highest priorities.”

County Attor­ney John Merrill said Monday that the land acquisition agent retained by the county, Universal Field Services, has obtained 20 of the 45 purchase contracts needed to pick up pieces of private land for the highway realignment and widening. Not all of the impacted property owners are happy about the process, Merrill acknowledged.

The parcels range from 0.07 to 7.49 acres. The prices paid for five parcels during contract review by the commissioners Monday ranged from $12,000 to $35,000.

A local surveying firm also is working on the project.

The five-mile stretch of C.R. 14 has narrow lanes of traffic, blind corners and uneven pavement that is expensive to maintain. Road and Bridge Supervisor Paul Draper said when rebuilt to county standards, the road would have 12-foot traffic lanes and 3-foot shoulders with gravel on the sides of the shoulders.

One of the biggest changes would be the elimination of a pair of 90-degree corners less than a mile from the intersection with Colorado Highway 131. Realigning those corners would require the largest single acquisition of a right of way, almost 7.5 acres from the Verda M. Taylor Fund on behalf of the Archie Dinius family.

That contract has not yet been acquired.

— To reach Tom Ross, call 871-4205 or e-mail tross@steamboatpilot.com

Comments

pitpoodle 4 years, 6 months ago

After intense competition, Routt County lost its bid for $15 m in federal funding for RCR 14. If SB 700 annexation is approved, we will be looking for $67 to $80 million from the state and federal government to cover our portion of US 40 costs. There is a snowballs chance in hell that we will receive any funding. Out of the $110 million cost of US 40 improvements west of town, SB 700 will pay $30 to $40 million to mitigate only the impacts it will create. Routt County Commissions voted to approve SB 700 annexation by an unconvincing 2-1 vote. Once annexation is approved, the city is obligated as Doug Monger said in this article, “We moved forward, so we’re going to continue to move forward". Just say NO.

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arnonep 4 years, 6 months ago

Looking the gift horse in the mouth? $30 to $40 million will be charged to the tax payer if you vote no. Lets Vote says "2000 homes not selling + 2000 more = lower home values". Is that not the definition of affordable housing?

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Scott Wedel 4 years, 6 months ago

If it is going to take 7.5 acres to take out a pair of 90 degree corners near 131 then LEAVE THEM! The corners are not that bad. Take half an acre at each corner to create a more sweeping turn with more room. 7.5 acres? What are they going to do with the leftover land? Build a park with lots of fields for Triple Crown?

The important issue on 14 is when it goes over the hill will no shoulder and lots of twisty turns. Scary enough when someone pulling a boat trailer feels the need to cross the center line prior to a turn so that the trailer will stay on the roadway through the turn. It can be terrifying to take a turn with a car behind you and discover a bicyclist in front of you with a car coming in the opposite direction. Slam on the brakes and hope no one hits you makes for a dangerous road.

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pitpoodle 4 years, 6 months ago

arnonep No, see, the $30-$40 million is only to mitigate the impacts SB 700 will created on US 40. Without SB 700 these improvement will not be needed at all. Without SB 700, according to the West of Steamboat Springs US Highway 40 System Needs Study, currently needed work (to accommodate normal traffic growth) "can be implemented over time through the city's annual Capital Improvement Program or similar programs". If SB 700 passes $67 to $80 million will be charged to the taxpayer. The total cost will be $110 million with little hope of any state or federal funding. Horse or not, this is no gift, in any way.

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1999 4 years, 6 months ago

scott,

I think everyone would like to see 14 be safer for bikers, walkers, and drivers. The shoulder and width of the road compared to it's use shows a deplorable lack of foresite

I am sure Paul Draper would be happy to show and tell you how and where that 7.5 acres is being used.

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dave reynolds 4 years, 6 months ago

correct me if I'm wrong but didn't we have a chance to fix this problem along time ago..by a vote? it got voted down so here we are again adressing the same problem we adressed several years ago

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Scott Wedel 4 years, 6 months ago

1999, It is not hard to see why taking out the corners would require 7.5 acres because that is what would take to go diagonally instead of turning 90 degrees twice But that would also leave a lot of acquired land as unused because the old right of way would cease to be used and the slice between the old road and the new road would be too small (and far less desirable) for a residential house and so on. (And btw, such slices on occasion have been turned into parks. More often they are developed into county road and bridge maintenance shops).

Anyway, instead of spending so much to acquire such a large amount to straighten the road, I suggest buying far less land and just improve those two corners with shoulders and maybe a bit more sweeping. So yes, people intent on driving 55 mph may crash there, but idiots going way over the speed limit are going to crash somewhere. And maybe having a pair of 25 mph corners will suggest to drivers that it is a county road, not a freeway and thus suggest to them that driving around the speed limit is required for the rest of the road.

I think there is no room for doubt that the road needs to be fixed over the hill. It is only a matter of time before there is a horrific fatal crash for which the roadway itself is a contributing factor of the crash. Hopefully, the county can convince funding sources to contribute to fixing the road before that happens. Unfortunately, it is all too common that it takes the tragedy to fix a well known unsafe roadway.

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