County transportation looks to partner with subdivisions
December 24, 2016
The county’s road and bridge department has their official budget for 2017, a total of roughly $39 million.
Of those monies, $13 million will be spent on flood recovery in the James Canyon area, the Wagon Wheel Gap, bridges along the South St. Vrain including the primary bridge and roads in the Four Mile Canyon area.
“Those are the major projects that will get started,” Boulder County Director of Transportation George Gerstle said. “As we get the bids in and how much they’ll actually cost, we’ll go back to the commissioners for the funding.
“But that $13 million is going to be enough to get us started through the first part of the year.”
The next biggest chunk of 2017 funding goes to road and bridge maintenance. This includes potholes, plowing, and ditches, and stands at roughly $8.8 million.
After this, there is $7.6 million towards repaving county roads and repairing bridges.
According to Gerstle, the biggest projects there are going to be East County Line Road and Valmont Road between 61st and 75th streets.
Matches for paving
Gerstle wants subdivision residents to know that the county sets funding aside to match efforts to pave roads.
“We also have what the commissioners created as an incentive fund,” Gerstle said. “The county will match locally-raised money to help repave some of the small local roads in subdivisions, basically local access roads.”
These projects typically see about $1 million in matching funds from the county, but any interested subdivisions can contact the transportation department to asses their situation.
“If we get more demand, that is something we ask the commissioners to help us with,” Gerstle said. “But right now that’s the starting point. We want to talk to any interested subdivisions that want to get together about their local roads.”
Contact transportation department at 303-441-3900 for information on paving roads.
“I want to encourage folks — particularly living in the subdivisions — that the county wants to work with them to repair and/or repave their local subdivision roads in a cooperative way,” Gerstle said.
The county annually sets aside roughly $1M for one specific paving project.
This year, there is $955,159 dedicated to the Lake Valley Estates area.
Boulder County Public Information Officer Barbara Halpin said that this practice has been the county’s standard practice for a considerable amount of time.
“That is a number that has been consistent for the last few years,” Halpin said. “It was based on the fact that the commissioners had agreed to pay 20 percent of the total cost of subdivision roads.”
The county makes these choices based on a road’s use beyond residents.
The goal is to get many more roads paved in the next 10 to 15 years that lead to things like schools or places of worship or shopping areas.
“Things that are in a subdivision, but aren’t only used by the people that live there,” Halpin said. “The county has committed to paving those roads as a community interest.”
Following the flood of 2013, the county was forced to dip into reserves to make repairs. Reimbursements are now starting to come in.
“Now we’re starting to see a portion of that come back as reimbursement,” Halpin said. “We can now keep up with the balance. We had to do all of the work and pay for it up front.”
Left Hand Canyon Drive has shown to be one of the most expensive of the flood projects, and was completed last week.
There is roughly $13 million of the department’s budget set for flood recovery projects in 2017. This amount is a 20 percent match to the federal monies.
Halpin pointed out that looking at total numbers makes it seem like there is an increase in transportation spending, but it is actually compensating for expenditures and reimbursements from federal grants.
“The flood really made our budget topsy-turvy,” Halpin said. “We were talking about $100 million going in and coming back every year. If you look at the budget for the last few years, you see that it’s been more.
“Once we’re done with the recovery, we can get back to a more normal budget … We haven’t seen a typical budget since before the 2013 flood.”
The flood recovery has added extra staff to the department that is pulling double duty with their normal responsibilities.
There are four additional engineers, four working creek recovery and five more strictly filling out paperwork for the federal flood recovery reimbursements.
“Our staff is really doing a lot of work to try and keep everything together and repair all of the roads,” Gerstle said. “I think we’ll be successful there. There’s a lot of paperwork involved in getting these federal reimbursements.
“We learned pretty quickly that you can’t repair the roads without addressing the creeks. They’re all basically in the same place. We are working with the communities to restore the watersheds. It’s all grant funded or reimbursed.”