RFTA secures $11.5 million federal grant for Glenwood Springs project | AspenTimes.com

RFTA secures $11.5 million federal grant for Glenwood Springs project

A slide in a presentation RFTA prepared for the Colorado Congressional delegation shows overflow parking of buses at the Glenwood Springs maintenance facility. A federal grant will help fund expansion.
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The Roaring Fork Transportation Authority received an $11.5 million grant Tuesday to expand and renovate its existing Glenwood Springs maintenance facility to keep pace with anticipated growth in the bus system.

The RFTA grant was part of $14.9 million awarded to transit systems in Colorado and $464 million awarded nationally by the Federal Transit Administration.

RFTA CEO Dan Blankenship said Tuesday he anticipates ridership on the regional bus system will continue to grow once the coronavirus crisis “is in the rear-view mirror.” RFTA exceeded 5 million passengers last year on bus service that extends between Aspen and Rifle. The organization has been working for five years to secure federal grants for the Glenwood facility expansion.

“We’re doing mass quantities of high-fives here today — digitally,” Blankenship quipped.

The project is “shovel ready” and had the support of the Roaring Fork Valley’s Congressional delegation. Roughly $7 million in local matching funds was earmarked for the project from a property tax increase that regional voters approved in November 2018. That amount could change as the result of other grant requests.

The facility is located in West Glenwood Springs. RFTA recently purchased the adjacent Glenwood Springs operations facility. That building will be torn down to create space for a new operations center and garage for up to 30 buses.

One of the biggest needs is for indoor space where buses can be warmed up quicker during winters. Buses parked outdoors are currently idling an average of three hours per night during winters, according to a slide presentation prepared for the Congressional delegation. Blankenship said the cramped quarters also raise safety concerns because so much activity is undertaken there.

The project will be pursued in phases. RFTA is seeking additional federal grants for future phases. RFTA also has a maintenance facility near the Aspen Business Center that is unaffected by the grant.

The first phases will cost $18.6 million. Construction is expected to begin next year.

The Eagle County Regional Transportation Authority received $800,000 from the same pot of federal grants to purchase replacement buses for its fleet.



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