Park and rides, some Breck highway work nixed
BRECKENRIDGE – If transportation projects were entered into a popularity contest, park and rides would lose – or so the voting went in Summit County when local officials had to help the state trim the highway work budget.
Colorado Department of Transportation regional director Jeff Kullman and CDOT engineers met with the Board of County Commissioners, the Summit Stage director and representatives from Dillon and Breckenridge Thursday. Kullman had bad news, but fortunately, it wasn’t much of a surprise.
Like every other area of state government, CDOT’s project budgets are suffering from lower-than-expected revenue in a stagnant economy. Kullman told Summit officials that, although money for CDOT’s 2004 fiscal year would remain unchanged and money for 2005 would actually increase (thanks to bonds issued under the current reduced interest rates), years 2006 through 2008 are projected to suffer a 50 percent reduction from original estimates.
“We’ll attempt to address some of that as we work on our long-range plan,” Kullman told the group gathered at the Old County Courthouse in Breckenridge. The purpose of Kullman’s visit Thursday, however, was to get guidance from Summit County on how to trim nearly $4 million from project plans in the next two years.
It took all of 30 seconds for County Commissioner Bill Wallace to offer up the park and ride project money.
“Get rid of the park and rides in Grand County and Park County,” Wallace said. “Keystone’s not on schedule for the park and ride, so scratch it.”
Breckenridge, represented by town manager Tim Gagen and Mayor Sam Mamula, stepped up to the chopping block offering to trim the project budget for work on the North and South Park intersections with State Highway 9.
By shaving $1.2 million from the Breckenridge Highway 9 budget and $200,000 from the park and ride allotment, local officials met CDOT’s need for the 2004 fiscal year. Two-and-a-half million dollars will need to be culled from the 2005 budget. Park and rides account for $3.3 million in that year and could be axed again. The commissioners and town officials asked CDOT to check back with them in another year.
Gagen said that Breckenridge was aware the cuts would be coming and the town was quick to put its projects on hold because so much of the high-dollar highway work is focused in the Breckenridge area.
“We had a similar conversation (with CDOT) last year when they were projecting they would have less money,” Gagen said. “We had thought through what our options were, and reviewing it, the south intersection of Park Avenue would probably have the least impact to the community in the short term.”
Summit officials also petitioned Kullman to make sure the forgiven money doesn’t disappear. Gagen surprised Kullman by asking if the slashed money could be rolled into budgets in future years. Kullman couldn’t give a definitive answer.
“But we have the same risk if they cut it anyway,” Gagen said. “If it’s cut and doesn’t come back, it’s still getting cut. The nice thing is that they come and ask us before they start cutting.”
Reid Williams can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 237, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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