The Town of Elizabeth moved a step closer to creating a new network of trails throughout the town linking schools, the library, and recreation areas with the awarding of a new grant. The $700,000 Colorado Department of Transportation grant is part of its Transportation Alternative Program program designed to assist local governments with alternative transportation projects.
According Dick Eason, town administrator, the trail project has been in the works for over a year, and website surveys as well as public reaction to the conceptual drawings at public venues have been positive.
Even with the CDOT grant secured, the project will remain conceptual for at least another year. The grant comes with the stipulation that the town provide matching funds before receiving any money. Those matching funds are likely to come from a second grant provided by Great Outdoors Colorado.
The application deadline for the GOCO grant is in mid-February, but the town has already passed a major hurdle on the way to securing the additional funding. The project’s conceptual plan received a favorable review by GOCO in November, which gives the town the go ahead to continue the application process.
The entire trail project is contingent on receiving both the grants, because each grant constitutes the matching funds required by the other. According to Eason, the award of the CDOT grant strengthens the town’s GOCO application. An answer is expected from GOCO sometime in early spring.
But even if the application for the GOCO grant is not approved this year, the project is not necessarily dead. According to Eason, the CDOT funds will remain available to the town for an additional year, giving the town another chance to apply for GOCO funding. If all goes according to plan, the town could begin engineering and designs in early 2016 and construction could begin in early 2017.
The town has scheduled a town hall meeting for 6:30 p.m. Feb. 11 to discuss right of ways and easements with property owners who might be affected by the plan. Though the meetings are informational and will focus on property owners, the public is invited to attend.
According to CDOT, the Transportation Alternative Program was developed to facilitate alternative transportation projects that include recreational trails, safe routes to schools, and support of improvements to existing roadways to provide safe routes for non-drivers.
GOCO, created by voters in 1992, allocates up to 50 percent of state’s earnings from the Colorado Lottery ticket sales to provide local governments money for the conservation of open spaces or for the construction of parks and trails.