TELLURIDE – With grant funding proving evasive, the Town of Telluride may try a new tack to make up the cost difference between the $1.2 million light signal at Society Turn that the Colorado Department of Transportation has committed to funding, and the $2.2 million roundabout preferred there by the local community, Town Manager Greg Clifton told elected officials assembled in Mountain Village for an intergovernmental meeting on Monday.
“Monies that used to be available to us are not there any longer,” said Clifton, explaining that he has pursued several different sources of alternative funding to make up the $1 million cost difference between the two projects, to little avail.
Eleven, mostly rear-end accidents took place at Society Turn between January 2000 and December 2004, and a 2008 priority study ranked it as the third most dangerous intersection among 32 in CDOT’s Region 5. The region spans 15 counties and two tribal nations in southwest Colorado and is the least populous in the state.
Still, save for an additional $100,000 CDOT has agreed to put toward the roundabout project, the town’s other grant requests have fallen short.
“This landscape isn’t changing anytime soon,” Clifton said. “But we will not give up.”
While the Telluride Town Council set aside $300,000 in its 2011 budget for a roundabout and planned to seek grant funding to cover the difference, it also hoped to receive contributions from Mountain Village and San Miguel County to offset the cost of the improvements.
Ultimately the county agreed to fund $100,000 of the project and Mountain Village agreed to another $25,000. Those combined with the additional CDOT money means $475,000 remains to be found.
While CDOT wanted to receive a written funding commitment for the $1 million project cost difference from each of the three participating governments this summer in preparation for construction to begin in the spring of 2012, Clifton’s idea is that Telluride would take the lead on the project. In that way, Telluride’s would be the only government to enter into a formal agreement with the agency, which Clifton hopes could pave the way for the other two governments to sign separate agreements with Telluride to commit additional money toward the improvements over the next several years.
In the interim, Clifton said that Telluride’s Road and Alley Fund reserves or a redistribution of planned projects could be used to pay the balance of the cost and later be reimbursed to some degree by the other governments.
While Mountain Village Mayor Pro-Tem Jonathan Greenspan and San Miguel County Commissioner Elaine Fischer suggested that Clifton see if CDOT would be willing to “pay forward” the cost of the roundabout (“In my eyes we’ve been denied a lot of money,” said Greenspan), Mountain Village Mayor Bob Delves agreed that Telluride should lead the project, despite originally being the lone voice on his council to oppose funding the roundabout.
That said, he suggested that if Clifton wants to seek additional funding from Mountain Village, he would be wise to get on the council agenda prior to elections this summer when a number of the sitting council will be termed out.
Clifton said he plans to pitch the idea to the Telluride Town Council at its meeting next Tuesday.
Asked whether he thought council would be amendable to the arrangement, “I don’t think there will be any problem,” he said.