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Colo. to accelerate state construction projects

By Joe Dominguez, Multimedia Journalist - Pueblo Chieftain Bureau , j.dominguez@krdo.com
Published On: Dec 14 2012 11:55:24 PM CST
Updated On: Dec 15 2012 12:10:25 AM CST

Hundreds of millions of dollars will help speed up state highway and Interstate improvement projects.

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -

Gov. John Hickenlooper and the head of the state's transportation department say more construction projects will get under way sooner because of a new budgeting plan expected to free up $300 million annually over five years.
 
Hickenlooper and Colorado Department of Transportation Executive Director Don Hunt say projects will begin based on the money the state currently has saved up for projects. It's a change from the current system of waiting to save all the money needed to begin a project, which takes years.

That's welcome news for one group behind a lot of the long-term planning for the Pikes Peak region.

"If there is a safety issue on Interstate 25 or Powers Boulevard we're going to look really hard at those projects and see if they are ready to go," said Rob MacDonald of the Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments.

MacDonald said his group plans for projects 30 years in advance and budgets projects six years in advance, so having projects ready to go isn't a problem. The only bump in the road at this point is not having the criteria set for using the money. MacDonald said that information should be out by February 2013.

"We really are looking forward to see what evolves from this to make sure we have some projects that move forward," MacDonald.

In an ideal world, MacDonald said, the money would allow construction to begin on improvements to Interstate 25 through Colorado Springs, Highway 24 from downtown to Manitou Springs and Highway 16, also known to many as Powers Boulevard.

"They have safety issues, capacity issues and they all need to be looked at as the criteria comes out for the new money," said MacDonald.
 
The change is expected to free up the money over five years. The governor's office says speeding up construction is expected to create or sustain more than 10,500 jobs during that time.
 
Hickenlooper and Hunt made the announcement Friday. Hunt says the new budgeting plan is being implemented now.

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