RIDGWAY – Ouray County officials learned Wednesday they would not receive $16 million in Federal Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant funds to pave and improve County Road 1 between Colorado Hwy. 62 and Colona, on Log Hill Mesa.
U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood announced the selected 51 transportation projects, nationwide, from more than 1,400 applications to receive TIGER Grant funding. The U.S. 36 corridor project between Denver and Boulder will receive $10 million; it is the only transportation project in Colorado to receive TIGER Grant monies.
While Ouray County Commissioner Keith Meinert pronounced himself disappointed that the county didn’t receive the stimulus funds, he said the application process and public discussions on the road have served to highlight the fact that the road is in need of repairs.
“Just because we didn’t receive the TIGER Grant, the problems on County Road 1 are not going to go away,” Meinert said in a telephone interview yesterday. “That grant would have gone a long way to solve the problems we have identified. Going through this exercise has highlighted the cost of repairing and maintaining the road; I don’t consider going through these exercises a waste of time or a waste of money.”
Meinert, along with his fellow commissioners, held a town-hall style meeting last November for the public to learn about the TIGER Grant and the problems the county faces with its most traveled road, CR 1.
According to the commissioners, current Road and Bridge expenditures are inadequate for effective maintenance of the gravel portion of the road, which was neither designed nor built, structurally, to handle the current traffic load, most particularly at the north end of the road, just outside of Colona. County engineers estimate that its gravel section will cost nearly $1 million to repair, with another $760,000 needed in capital repairs on the paved section on the escarpment coming down from Log Hill Mesa.
“There are going to be some real challenges in the future,” Meinert said. “We will be looking for a financing mechanism for us to keep holding the road together.”
The projects funded with the $1.5 billion allocated in the Recovery Act include improvements to roads, bridges, rail, ports, transit and intermodal facilities.
Signifying demand for the program, the U.S. Department of Transportation was flooded with more than 1,400 applications from all 50 states, territories and the District of Columbia requesting funding for almost $60 billion worth of projects – 40 times the amount available through the program.