Basalt scores $500,000 state grant for Midland Avenue project |

Basalt scores $500,000 state grant for Midland Avenue project

Town government piecing together funding for $12.8M project

A woman crosses Midland Avenue in Downtown Basalt on Thursday, June 25, 2020. (Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times)

The town of Basalt scored a $500,000 grant to help with its Midland Avenue Streetscape Revitalization project, the state of Colorado announced Wednesday.

Basalt was one of 31 cities, towns and counties to obtain a grant award through the Colorado Department of Transportation’s Successful Revitalizing Main Streets Program.

“Grants were awarded for transportation infrastructure projects that will improve safety and accessibility of streets and street spaces across the state,” CDOT and Gov. Jared Polis said in a statement.

Basalt applied for $1 million but was grateful for the $500,000 award, Town Manager Ryan Mahoney said.

The Midland Avenue project will replace aging underground utilities, improve drainage, enhance hiking and biking amenities and spruce up the town’s main street.

The estimated cost is $12.8 million, but inflation is driving the prices of all construction projects higher. Basalt voters approved a ballot question last fall to extend bonds that were set to expire and extend associated property taxes to pay them off. The bond approval included an earmark of $9 million for the Midland Avenue project. Mahoney said a “favorable interest rate” at the time of issuance produced another $365,000 for the project.

Another $1.7 million was awarded to Basalt through the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. That program was designed to spur economic activity during an earlier stage of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The award of $500,000 rather than $1 million from the state grant requires Basalt to hustle for more funding.

“We were going to be $828,000 shy if it was a $1 million grant,” Mahoney said. Now the town is $1.328 million shy.

Town officials remain determined to minimize dipping into reserves to fund the project. “We want to keep piecing together grants,” Mahoney said.

He noted that there is time to find additional sources of funding. The $12.8 million project was spread across three years. This year’s emphasis is on design. Next year will be underground utility work and 2024 will be street-level improvements, Mahoney said.

The grant award described the significance of the Basalt project.

“This quarter-mile street segment is the heart and soul of the community and is Basalt’s main historic corridor, transporting people from Highway 82 to downtown Basalt and up the Fryingpan River canyon to Ruedi Reservoir and to a bounty of public lands,” the award said. “The goal of this project is to maximize pedestrian space, improve public gathering space and enhance the vibrancy of this critical economic and cultural center of Basalt.”