Gunnison looking for funding
for huge road makeover
By Robert Stevens
GUNNISON—A big road renovation effort is in the works for Gunnison City.
During a public hearing on the project on Wednesday, Jan. 20, Gunnison Mayor Lori Nay and the council members talked about a major overhaul of multiple roads in the city.
Kelly Chapel with Ensign Engineering said the master plan created by Gunnison City three years ago laid the groundwork for regular road renovations, but the condition of several roads in the city necessitated some extra repairs. For this reason, Gunnison City leadership wanted to pursue funding from the Utah Permanent Community Impact Board (CIB).
“For the most part we have been able to follow the plan, but we knew at the time that there were some roads that would not fit into an annual maintenance budget,” Chapel told the council.
Chapel said the timing for pursuing the CIB grant was good, because the city had recently been given a $200,000 Safe Walk to School grant from UDOT, and by combining that with any other funding they secure, they could make a bigger impact by not just repairing the bad roads, but also installing curb, gutter and storm drainage at the same time.
Nay said the project would see repairs on 400 West, 300 West, 200 East, 300 South from 200 East to 440 East, Indian Road and others. Each road would have specific repairs tailored to its needs.
Chapel told the council the estimated total cost for the project would be $2.5 million, and they hoped to secure a $1.5 million CIB grant, as well as a $780,000, low-interest loan from the CIB which would be paid back over a 10 year span. $20,000 would come directly from the town, and the $200,000 from UDOT would be used towards the overall cost as well.
Chapel said the CIB application is due at the end of January and the actual meeting of the board is later in the spring, so the earliest the city might have the funding for the project is June. Providing the city was approved by the CIB, work could start as early as late summer, with a projected completion date of spring 2022.
The entire project hinges on the funding though, Chapel said, as the city does not have the money to complete the project on their own. An annual budget of approximately $170,000 for maintenance of B&C roads in the city simply won’t go far enough for an overhaul of this scope.
“The big question is what if you don’t get that much grant, or any grant,” Chapel asked the council. “Could the city afford more? If not, what would be the preferred alternative if this isn’t received. Scale down, more loan?”
Nay and the council said the CIB is basically the option they had to fund the project, and if they weren’t approved, or the grant amount is less than they hoped, they would have to scale the project back as far as it took to fit their budget.
“If we only get a portion I think we should scale back accordingly,” Councilman Sean Crane said. “Some of this does need to be done. It’s not like we can just trash the whole project. My thought is based on what we get from the CIB will determine the size and scale of the project.”
Councilman Robert Anderson agreed, saying, “What will be will be and we will take care of what we can with what we have.”
Nay said newly-elected Gov. Spencer Cox had spoken recently about allocating money for rural towns so they could accomplish important infrastructure projects like this one, and the city hopes to take advantage of that option if it ever fully materializes.
Some attendees to the public hearing spoke during the public comment period, and both of them on the topic of semi-trucks and heavy equipment coming through town and ruining their roads.
“I think it’s great we’re fixing roads,” said one attendee. “There is more than $2 million worth that needs to be done. But a big problem is heavy equipment and semis on the road. Weight limit ordinances are not being adhered too and semis are parked on roads overnight. These roads are not built for that.”
Former councilman Blake Donaldson spoke up in agreement, saying “There are so many roads in town that need help. If you pave Indian Road, how many semis are going to come down that road and mess it up? Seems like pushing money into something we don’t need.”