Colorado Governor Urges for Transportation Grants for Western Slope

DENVER,  CO (STL.News) Governor Jared Polis is urging U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and the Biden administration to support projects that would boost mobility and economic growth for communities along the Western Slope.

In a letter to Secretary Buttigieg, the Governor touted the many benefits of the projects Colorado has proposed for the Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity, or RAISE, grants, called the Multimodal Options for a Vibrant, Equitable Western Slope, or MOVE, program.  This program builds on the Colorado Department of Transportation’s Revitalizing Main Streets program, through which the Polis administration has made over 111 grants to cities and towns across the state to strengthen downtowns and promote active transportation.

“The Western Slope is home to a backbone of rural and urban communities along Interstate 70, the state’s only contiguous east/west route and the gateway to Colorado’s thriving outdoor recreation industry.  High costs of housing in our popular tourist destinations often push local residents to city outskirts or surrounding rural areas, compounding the need for accessible and affordable mobility options.”  the Governor wrote.

“Combined, the Grand Junction mobility corridor improvements, Glenwood Springs multimodal mainstreet project, and Rifle park-n-ride expansion and relocation advance a regional approach to make travel safer, more accessible, and more active along the I-70 corridor in Western Colorado,” the Governor’s letter continues.

The Colorado Department of Transportation is already working with local communities across the state on building mobility hubs, multimodal centers that link travelers to different modes of travel ranging from bus to rail and that can also host micromobility options, such as bikeshare programs.  Importantly, the communities included in this grant application are all population centers with growing downtowns and significant hubs for workforce housing along the Western Slope.

“Colorado’s Revitalizing Main Streets program has fortified a strong partnership between the state and cities and communities that’s focused on strengthening downtowns and the quality of place,” said Shoshana Lew, executive director of the Colorado Department of Transportation. “This grant application builds on that partnership.”

The mobility hub project planned for Grand Junction, which RAISE grant money would help fund, will provide a single point of access for Bustang, CDOT’s interregional bus service, along with Greyhound, Grand Valley Transit, the city’s free DASH shuttle and Amtrak service. Bicycle and pedestrian amenities will encourage activity at a now underutilized property, turning it into a community gathering space.

Meanwhile, in Glenwood Springs, RAISE grant money would help transform a five-lane thoroughfare into a pedestrian-oriented main street, where dining, sidewalk shops, lodging and the arts converge, rather than traffic.

Finally, RAISE grant funds could help double the capacity of a park-n-ride in Rifle as the current ridership continues to increase.  The project also could result in a site that would be more suitable for downtown development and is a high priority for Rifle’s plans to expand its downtown core through mixed-use investment.