Roads, public safety top priorities for city

Having watched its sales-tax revenue drop like so many Western Slope gas drilling rigs,

Grand Junction is lining up with thousands of other communities across the country for a chance at federal stimulus dollars, hoping for a financial shot in the arm in the form of new construction projects.

City officials last week responded to a letter from U.S. Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., asking for a list of their top five stimulus requests.

Here’s a look at the projects, ranked in order from most expensive to least expensive:

Fire stations

• Cost: $15 million

• Status: Awaiting grant criteria

Since voters rejected two tax measures last fall that would have paid for $98 million in new public safety buildings and improvements, the city hopes to pay for a sliver of that initiative through stimulus grants.
The money would go toward the construction of a new Fire Station
No. 1 downtown and the remodel of Fire Station No. 2 at 28 1/4 and Patterson roads.
Fire Station No. 1 was built in 1962. City officials wrote in their letter that a new station would provide additional space for personnel and equipment, create separate living quarters for men and women, and decrease response times.
The city is prepared to build the new station immediately, having spent $1.3 million already for land purchases, design and preliminary site work.

New 800 MHz system

• Cost: $9.6 million

• Status: Application submitted

The city wants the money to convert the Grand Junction Regional Communication Center to an 800 megahertz system to communicate with the 19 law-enforcement and government agencies under its umbrella.
The 911 dispatch center uses VHF radio frequency, but the licensing for that system expires in 2012 and isn’t compatible with Colorado’s 800 MHz digital trunked radio system. Multiple agencies in surrounding jurisdictions outside Mesa County already have transitioned to 800 MHz, leaving Mesa County authorities unable to communicate and share information regionally during a critical incident.

29 Road viaduct

• Cost: $30 million

• Status: Awaiting grant criteria

Grand Junction and Mesa County together for the past few years have pursued the construction of a 29 Road viaduct over the Union Pacific railroad tracks to connect with the Interstate 70 Business Loop. The new road would provide a link between Orchard Mesa and Pear Park on the south and Fruitvale and north Grand Junction on the north.
“We see that as a continuation of the Riverside Parkway project,” Deputy City Manager Rich Englehart said. “That certainly is of high priority.”
Englehart said the city and county have completed virtually all of the pre-construction work, including an environmental assessment, the purchase of rights-of-way and the road design.

Compressed natural gas

• Cost: $4.1 million

• Status: Awaiting grant criteria

Operators of the Persigo Wastewater Treatment Plant want to convert the 100,000 cubic feet of methane the sewer plant burns off each day into compressed natural gas. The gas would then be stored at a fueling station to power government vehicles.
City officials say the program could offset the use of 142,000 gallons of gasoline annually.

New police officers

• Cost: $2.6 million

• Status: Application submitted

The dip in sales-tax revenue forced the city to institute a hiring freeze for several new positions, including in the Grand Junction Police Department. Officials hope to obtain funding that would allow them to fill five vacant positions and five new positions.
If the money comes through, the city would fill the vacancies in its patrol, traffic, school resource officer and training units. New officers would go into the school resource officer, investigations and street crimes units.


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