The Vail Town Council will determine the extent to which it will authorize additional funding for the Vail I-70 Underpass project at its meeting on Tuesday, May 5. The item is listed fifth on the meeting agenda which begins at 6 p.m. in the Vail Town Council Chambers with opportunities for public comment.
Escalating construction costs and design refinements have increased the project’s most recent cost estimate to $30.1 million, an increase of 40 percent from the previous estimate of almost $21 million. In 2013, the Town Council approved a budget of approximately $6 million for the project, which represented a cost-share split of 29 percent from the town with the Colorado Department of Transportation funding the remainder of the construction.
During Tuesday’s discussion, council members will review a funding gap of an estimated $9.3 million which represents significant increases in general construction costs, utility relocation costs, right-of-way acquisition costs and construction management/engineering costs. Possible funding sources will be reviewed as well as a list of future capital improvement projects. Other considerations, such as options for potential savings and the impacts of not moving forward with the project will be presented.
The staff recommendation is to fund 29 percent of the funding gap and fund the recommended request for public art for a total additional cash contribution of $2.865 million.
Tuesday’s funding decision by the Town Council will be forwarded to the Colorado Transportation Commission for its review on June 18 to determine whether or not the Transportation Commission will fund the balance. The current $14.8 million allotment from CDOT for the Vail underpass sunsets in 2017.
As designed, the underpass would be built beneath I-70 between the West Vail and Town Center exits. The connection is situated between the Savoy Villas and Simba Run condominiums on the north side and a few hundred yards east of the Cascade Village entrance on the south side. An extensive landscaping plan would provide a buffer for adjacent properties. Noise walls have been eliminated from the project after a survey of impacted properties showed a lack of support for the sound barriers.
The Vail underpass has been identified in regional transportation plans for more than 20 years to help relieve congestion at the two interchanges and improve transit circulation and emergency response within the town. It would also provide a safe and efficient alternative for pedestrians and bicyclists.
If the Town Council and CDOT agree on a funding plan, construction would begin in April 2016 with completion in December 2017. If the two entities choose not to cover the funding gap, the project will be shelved indefinitely until full funding is available.
View the staff memo here or visit the project page at vailgov.com/underpass. To forward comments to the Town Council in advance of the meeting, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Contact: Tom Kassmel, 970-479-2235