County spending $15 million on construction

Work doesn’t involve federal stimulus dollars, which will go to future projects

By LE ROY STANDISH

Mesa County is spending more than $15 million on transportation and other capital improvement projects this summer.

Another $23 million in spening is being planned, according to Mesa County Administrator Jon Peacock.

“We knew coming into this year that the economy was struggling,” Peacock said. “Our Public Works and Facilities and Parks departments have hustled to get these projects moving forward as quickly as possible. In times like these, it’s important to keep our infrastructure strong, and doing so will help get a number of people working.”

The projects have been in the works for the last couple years, and the economic downturn served to make them higher priorities. None of the projects is using federal stimulus dollars.

“These are projects that we have had in our long-term capital-improvement plan,” Peacock said.

A majority of the funding for the projects comes from local sales tax and some from grants, he said. Stimulus dollars, if the county receives any, would be reserved for future projects and for finishing projects that have been put on the back burner for lack of funding, he said.

The county has applied for stimulus dollars for the 29 Road overpass, which will span the Union Pacific Railroad and Interstate 70 Business Loop. The $15 million of immediate spending includes building the portions of the road leading to the overpass.

Peacock said the investment in county infrastructure now takes advantage of a competitive bidding environment.

“Our bids have come in a little lower,” he said.

Plus, many of those companies that won bids are local contractors, said Pete Baier, director of Mesa County Public Works.

“We have received very competitive bids on our projects from local companies, and are pleased that 90 percent of our active contracts are with local vendors,” Baier said.

Given the economy, the county had to make budget cuts, but it made those cuts with an eye toward what is important to the taxpayers of Mesa County, Peacock said.

“We have tried to make cuts that in the short term have as little impact on what citizens see service-wise,” he said.

The investment in roads and bridges should have a positive impact, he added.


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