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Funding Window Opens for Lamar’s Reliever Route

Brian Long, CDOT Resident Engineer

Brian Long, CDOT Resident Engineer

Brian Long, CDOT’s Resident Engineer for the Lamar area discussed the opportunity for securing a new funding grant for the Lamar Reliever Route with the Prowers County Commissioners on Monday, March 21st. The commissioners approved a letter of support for the grant application termed FASTLANE.  Long said its existence was brought to his attention very recently and the window for the application closes on April 14, 2016.  As such he requested the letter no later than March 24th for submission.

“The application is for the US 287 bypass in Lamar and this project would be the last major improvement on the Ports-to-Plains Corridor in Colorado. Ours is one of three projects the grant window opened up on,” he explained.  The letter from Prowers County will be included with others from additional representative organizations in the region.  “We meet other criteria for the grant in that Highway 287 is a major freight route through this part of Colorado, we’re EA (environmental assessment) approved from earlier studies and are prepared to see construction begin by September 30, 2019,” Long continued.  He said the grant came in ‘fast and furious’ to his attention and the funding for construction costs is considerable.  “This grant is for projects over $100M.  The cost of the Reliever Route is estimated around $160M, so we believe we could see $135M from the federal government and CDOT could supply the balance,” he stated.

The commissioners discussed some of the more concrete plans regarding the Reliever Route, including access to the hospital and into the City of Lamar from the proposed by-pass. Commissioner Henry Schnabel said funding is set aside for the county to take over part of the road for the access of the by-pass into the city.  “We’d still have access to the hospital and access to Crystal Street?” he asked Long, who stated that segment is untouched.  Ron Cook asked about the Route northbound into the city from Highway 287 and if it pushes all traffic into the bypass or would be constructed to allow non-commercial traffic to naturally flow northward into the city and Lamar’s main street through town.  Long replied that is still in a planning stage, but is being taken into consideration.  He added that the Port of Entry will be moved and rebuilt farther east at a cost of about $6M.  He said if all the funding and plans were finalized, the long-awaited bypass could begin construction by 2019 with a finish date sometime in 2025.

The FAST ACT, passed in December 2015, created the Nationally Significant Freight and Highway Projects Program, but included no specific guidance for implementation of the program. These details were included in a Notice of Funding Opportunity issued on Friday, February 26 with an application deadline of April 14.  That’s the deadline Brian Long referred to in his meeting with the commissioners when it became apparent that the Reliever Route had made the cut.

By Russ Baldwin

Filed Under: City of LamarConsumer IssuesCountyEconomyFeaturedHot TopicsPublic SafetyTransportation

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