State reimbursement for roundabout looking likely |

State reimbursement for roundabout looking likely

A refund on expenditures for construction of the roundabout on Highway 82 moved a little closer to reality last week at a meeting of regional transportation representatives.

Aspen, Pitkin County and other communities in the region, including Leadville and Grand Junction, also learned Thursday that they have $40 million more to spend over the next 20 years than previously anticipated. Instead of $210 million for smaller regional projects like the roundabout, $250 million will be available, said Pitkin County Commissioner Mick Ireland, who represents the county on transportation issues.

Ireland said $4.8 million in local tax dollars appropriated to the roundabout could be refunded within the next two years.

Representatives from all six of Colorado’s transportation regions met in preparation for next week’s meeting of the state Transportation Committee, which is expected to finalize transportation funding priorities for the next year.

The regional representatives agreed to support the ballot question pushed by Gov. Bill Owens, which will ask voters to approve a major change in the way highway projects are paid for in Colorado. Known as the TRANS bond, Referendum A on this fall’s ballot would allow the state to borrow n See Funding on page 16-A

n continued from page 3-A

$1.7 billion ($2.3 billion with interest) and proceed with several highway expansion projects deemed important enough to warrant special funding.

Currently, state law requires the Colorado Department of Transportation to pay for projects on a year-by-year basis with cash on hand. If TRANS passes, Colorado will join the vast majority of states that borrow money for highway construction and other transportation projects.

On the Front Range, the bulk of the TRANS money is earmarked for Interstate 25, but projects on the Western Slope are also affected. The section of Highway 82 through Snowmass Canyon will be expanded to four lanes more quickly – up to three years more quickly – if TRANS passes. The Entrance to Aspen portion of Highway 82 is not affected by either the TRANS bond or the extra money for regional projects.

The extra $40 million came after the Transportation Commission made changes to the formula that determines regional budgets, Ireland said. The commission, which includes new members appointed by Gov. Owens, meets this Wednesday and Thursday.

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