Like clockwork, cone zones appear
Grand Junction has been known as a “cone zone” during summers past, because of a plethora of orange cones sequestering drivers from road construction.
There will be fewer road construction and repaving projects in the city this summer, according to Tim Moore, director of the city’s public works and planning department. But that doesn’t mean drivers can expect a cone-free drive.
“Normally our focus is street projects and we do a few utility projects. That’s flipped around this year,” Moore said.
With sales tax revenue down, the three-quarter-cent sales tax set aside for capital projects hasn’t given the city as much money to work with as in years past, Moore said. The city cut its street overlay program for this year during budget adjustments and scaled back its street chip seal program, which will focus on the Redlands this year. The city also reduced its alley improvement district program funding by $256,734 and will work on two alleys this year, down from five last year.
In order to keep construction work humming, Moore said the city decided to fill the void with more utility projects. The city spends about a million dollars on utility projects during the average year, Moore said. This year, $8 million will be invested in utility work.
After coming up short in attempts to get American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding, the city obtained two low-interest loans to fund utility work this summer and fall.
Sewer and water user fees will pay off a $5.2 million Build America Bonds loan and a $3.8 million Colorado Water Resources and Power Development Authority loan. Moore said revenue from the fees has remained relatively stable during the recession.
The loans will fund a sewer and interceptor installation project going on parallel to Riverside Parkway, as well as a three-phase waterline and sewer line installation project. The project will cover Patterson Road from Seventh Street to 27 1/2 Road, North Avenue from First Street to 15th Street, parts of 15th Street and 18th Street, and various streets near and around Mesa State College.
“It stimulates the economy. and we’re getting good bids because there’s not much work out there,” Moore said of the projects.
City Public Works and Planning spokeswoman Kristin Winn said the replacements are crucial because of the age of sewer and water lines.
“There have been 15 water-line breaks in that many years in the pipelines being replaced from First to 15th streets along North Avenue,” Winn said.
The most recent pipe replacement in that area took place in 1967, she said.
Utility projects may be amping up, but that doesn’t mean the city will be bereft of road construction.
The city and Mesa County will split the bill for constructing a $19.3 million viaduct at 29 Road and Interstate 70 Business Loop, beginning June 30. The project will extend 29 Road north over the railroad tracks to connect it to the business loop. The project is expected to take 18 months to complete.
More American Recovery and Reinvestment Act-funded highway projects will take place across the state this summer, going from 23 in July 2009 to 90 in July 2010, according to an ARRA status report presented Thursday by Vice President Joe Biden.