Funds appear secure for 82 in the canyon |

Funds appear secure for 82 in the canyon

Allyn Harvey

The two-lane section of Highway 82 that winds through Snowmass Canyon will be widened to four lanes by 2005 at the latest, the Colorado Transportation Commission decided yesterday.

The decision ensures that state highway funds will continue to flow into the Roaring Fork Valley, regardless of the outcome of a statewide highway funding package that will go to voters in November.

Colorado Department of Transportation Director Tom Norton said that if voters pass the TRANS bond this fall, Snowmass Canyon will be finished by 2004, or even 2003. The project was to be finished by 2003 before a funding shortage threatened to throw that schedule out the window.

“We scheduled it for a 2004 completion date because it’s tough construction in Snowmass Canyon. We don’t know what summer will do for us each year, and we don’t know what winter will do to us,” he said.

Highway 82 is one of 28 high-priority projects around the state that are being paid for with money from the so-called 7th Pot of state highway funds. For the last five years, the Transportation Commission has funded those key projects from the 7th Pot, but with a projected $300 million deficit looming next year, the completion date for highway improvements in Snowmass Canyon and other projects was thrown into question.

The Transportation Commission adopted two budgets this week: One lays out funding priorities under the current pay-as-you-go system, the second assumes voters pass the bonding measure this fall. If the measure fails, some projects face delays of up to 25 years.

The funding measure, proposed by Gov. Bill Owens, will allow the state to borrow nearly $2 billion against anticipated revenues from state taxpayers and the federal government. The ballot measure was proposed earlier this year after the state Supreme Court ruled that such a move must be OK’d by the voters.

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