The Colorado Transportation Commission approved Thursday $1.5 billion in road projects across the state, including $17.5 million for Summit County’s Colorado Highway 9 project.
The award was announced by Gov. John Hickenlooper and Colorado Department of Transportation executive director Don Hunt as part of the Responsible Acceleration of Maintenance and Partnerships program. RAMP was created in December 2012 to develop new ways of budgeting and planning to streamline vital transportation projects.
“The innovative RAMP program will allow us to make the critical improvements to our state’s transportation system,” Hickenlooper said in a news release. “These transportation improvements will increase the safety and access of our roadways.”
Summit County’s Highway 9 project was one of 44 partnerships announced Thursday. The $17.5 million award provides full funding for the project, which would result in the construction of a shortcut between Summit High School and the Summit Medical Center via the Iron Springs conservation easement.
Thad Noll, assistant Summit County manager, said the project is still dependent upon environmental clearance in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act. The county should receive a NEPA decision within the next month.
Once the county clears the NEPA hurdle, the Colorado Department of Transportation can begin working on the design portion of the project, Noll said.
“County staff will be closely involved in the planning and design as we go,” Noll said. “Construction will likely begin during the summer of 2016, maybe fall of 2015.”
The Continental Divide Land Trust, which has managed the conservation easement at Iron Springs, is expected to trade that parcel for the land on which Colorado Highway 9 is currently located. The land trust plans to convert that current stretch of highway into bike paths and walking trails along the shore of the Lake Dillon, Noll said.
In addition to the 44 partner projects, the Colorado Transportation Commission also approved $66 million in operations projects throughout the state and $800 million in asset management projects to maintain the state’s system of roadways. RAMP also will provide a $300 million per year increase in road project funding over the course of the next five years, or a 50 percent increase, the release stated.
The increased funding is being touted as an economic driver, as every $1.5 million spent on transportation projects creates or sustains 10.5 jobs, according to the release.
“These projects will boost our economy through construction job growth and the improvements to our state’s transportation system,” Hickenlooper said in the release.