Without grant funding, Routt County Road 14 project lays dormant
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Routt County Road 14 heads up a winding path to Stagecoach State Park. The last large snowfall saw several cars abandoned on the side of the road to be retrieved later.
But, it is the first sharp turn of the road when heading south that seems to be particularly treacherous, evident by the mangled road sign that had fallen victim to the corner it was designed to warn about.
“When there is bad weather, cars will fly off of it every day,” said Alyssa Custer, who lives right near the corner where County Roads 14 and 14C meet. “In good weather, it is like weekly.”
Not only is there a rather sharp curve but also the outside edge of the curve is elevated, creating a down slope in a spot where vehicles often slide right off the road.
When they do slide off the roadway, Custer said about half of them need help from someone else, often with a large truck or tow truck, to dislodge their car from the snow.
A few times after someone goes off the road, Custer said she has seen an ambulance on scene, though she was not aware of any specific injuries.
Reflecting over the weekend as the second vehicle of the day had slid off the road, Custer wondered why nothing has been done about this stretch. At a minimum, it causes a headache for those who get stuck, she said, but it could lead to someone getting hurt.
Turns out, a project to improve the road has been in consideration for over a decade.
Noting the curve near the 14C intersection and other stretches of the road that can be tricky in the winter, Routt County purchased all the right-of-way space needed to realign the roadway. In 2010, the project’s cost was estimated at more than $13 million, according to Mike Mordi, assistant director of Routt County Public Works.
The project would affect the road at various spots from Stagecoach State park to where the road junctions with Colorado Highway 131.
A Colorado Department of Transportation TIGER II grant worth $15.5 million would have covered the cost of the project. The grant, created from the 2009 Recovery Act, was meant for infrastructure projects that could generate economic recovery and upgrading the route to a state park seemed to fulfill that requirement.
But the county didn’t get the grant.
In 2013, public works officials applied for a $15.6 million RAMP grant from CDOT aimed at accelerating maintenance projects and better coordinating state funding. But Routt County didn’t get that grant, either.
A 2019 attempt to get a Federal Lands Access Program grant worth $13.1 million also failed.
While plans have been drawn up, land was purchased, and the county spent over a million dollars of work on the project, major improvements have been stalled for more than a decade because of a lack of grant funding.
Securing grant funding can often be competitive. For example, just four projects were awarded the grant the county first applied for in 2010.
Until funding for the project is secured, the county will continue to apply for relevant grants, Mordi said. In the meantime, the county will maintain the road.
Custer said she believes the signage around the corner is adequate, and the problem is people driving faster than the corner allows. The speed limit is posted on both sides of the curve in addition to arrow signs trying to alert drivers of the potential risk.
“If they could get some funding that would be great,” Custer said. “It is such a dangerous corner, and people go into it far too fast.”
To reach Dylan Anderson, call 970-871-4247 or email danderson@SteamboatPilot.com.
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