OURAY COUNTY – Two highway projects in Ouray County are among 44 partnership projects selected as recipients of $580 million for improving the Colorado’s transportation system as part of the Responsible Acceleration of Maintenance and Partnerships program, Gov. John Hickenlooper and the Colorado Department of Transportation Executive Director Don Hunt announced Thursday.
The RAMP program was created in December 2012 as part of a new budgeting and planning approach aimed at accelerating the completion of transportation projects.
Through RAMP, CDOT will contribute $1.6 million toward the City of Ouray’s $2 million Sky Rocket Box Culvert on US Highway 550, with the City of Ouray pitching in the remaining $400,000.
“This is critical to Ouray,” said Ouray Public Works Director Dennis Erickson of the project, which breaks ground in 2016. The existing corrugated metal culvert is badly deteriorated, and prone to clogging up with debris during flood events in the Skyrocket drainage, causing water to back up and flow across Highway 550 at the gateway to Ouray.
The Town of Ridgway’s $10.5 million RAMP grant application for improvements to Highway 62 was also successful, but the $13.3 million project that includes the Highway 62 center turn lane project, plus elements of the Downtown Streetscape Plan, was predicated upon the Town of Ridgway successfully raising $2 million in matching funds through a bond question on the November ballot. Ridgway Town Council moved to strike that question last month, in response to business owners’ protest of the proposed property tax hike.
Town Manager Jen Coates, Mayor John Clark and Town Engineer Joanne Fagan did not return calls from The Watch on Friday. With the fate of the Streetscape project up in the air, it is unclear how or even if the newly awarded RAMP funds will be spent, if the Town of Ridgway does not raise matching funds to partner in the project.
According to a memo prepared by Coates in August regarding Streetscape funding options, Highway 62 improvements to be paid for by the RAMP grant extend from Laura Street to the Highway 550 intersection. They include a three-lane highway all the way through town, including two drive lanes and a center turn lane; two bike lanes extending from the Highway 550 intersection to Laura St.; concrete crosswalk intersections on Highway 62 at: Railroad, Lena, Cora, and Laura Streets; curb and gutter; sidewalk on both sides of Highway 62, from the bridge to Laura St. and on one side of Highway 62 from Laura Street to Amelia Street; surface and subsurface drainage improvements; landscaping and irrigation, including raised planters, from Railroad Street to Laura Street; decorative lighting and amenities (benches, trash, recycle, etc.); and a connecting sidewalk under the Highway 62 bridge to existing sidewalk on the north side of the bridge.
A release from Gov. Hickenlooper’s office stated that under the RAMP program, CDOT will fund multi-year projects based on year of expenditure, rather than saving for the full amount of a project before construction begins. This will match project expenditures with available revenues and allow CDOT to fund additional transportation projects over the next five years.
“The local and private sector response to this program has been extraordinary, with CDOT receiving a total of 166 applications requesting more than $1.54 billion, over two times the total funding available,” said CDOT’s Hunt. “While it demonstrates the continued transportation needs we have statewide, we were also able to extend the reach of our RAMP funds because our local partners also contributed $118 million to these projects and we hope to leverage more from the private sector.”
In summary, the 44 partnership project elements include 238 lane miles improved; 89 lane miles added; 26 lane miles transferred from state system; 116 shoulder miles improved/added; 13 rehabilitated bridges; five new wildlife passes; one new pedestrian bridge; nine reconstructed interchanges; four “Main Street” highway projects and 16 transit/bicycle/pedestrian projects.
According to CDOT, many of these projects will result in better safety conditions and reduce accidents. For example, the Pueblo I-25 project will reduce accidents by 65 percent in that area and the SH 9 project in Grand County will dramatically reduce vehicle and wildlife collisions. Improved travel times are another outcome of many of the projects, for instance, the proposed interchange reconstruction at I-25 and Arapahoe will improve travel times up to 50 percent in some directions.For updated information visit http://www.coloradodot.info/programs/RAMP.