Local officials to make pitch to state for roundabout funding | AspenTimes.com

Local officials to make pitch to state for roundabout funding

The Colorado Transportation Commission has agreed to meet with local officials to discuss funding of a roundabout at the intersection of Highway 82 and Maroon Creek Road.

Elected officials from the city of Aspen learned last month that the state had no intention of reimbursing local taxpayers for the $6.4 million project.

Highway 82 is on the state’s list of priority transportation projects, but the Entrance to Aspen portion of the highway work has yet to be included in the Statewide Transportation Improvement Plan. The news came as a surprise to the city’s leaders, even though they had a Jan. 5 letter from Transportation Commission Chairman Roger Cracraft indicating funding could not be approved at this time.

Work on the roundabout portion of the Entrance to Aspen, which includes transit lanes between the Maroon Creek Bridge and Maroon Creek Road, a new RFTA bus transit stop, and replacement of the traffic light with a roundabout, was scheduled to begin May 15.

In a joint meeting with the Board of County Commissioners, the City Council learned yesterday that they have 20 minutes on May 18 to convince transportation commissioners that the project deserves funding. They also learned that even if the state agrees to cover some of the final price tag, its contribution isn’t likely to cover anywhere near the full cost.

“This is our opportunity to put our best foot forward and try and get reimbursement for this project,” said County Manager Suzanne Konchan.

Konchan suggested that Aspen follow Vail’s example. Instead of asking for all of the money it needed to build a roundabout, she explained, Vail’s government built their roundabout with local funds and accepted 50 percent reimbursement after four years.

Work on the Aspen project will not begin until after the May 18 transportation commission meeting. If an agreement on reimbursement is not reached, the elected officials decided, the project will be delayed until next year at the earliest.

“We’re virtually certain to be included in the statewide implementation plan, the problem is that it isn’t formalized until August,” said County Commissioner Mick Ireland. He represents Pitkin County and Aspen on a regional transportation board that makes funding recommendations on highway projects.

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