Building relationships in DC is a cornerstone of Glenwood Springs grant funding strategy

Construction crews work laying and leveling concrete for the new sidewalk along South Midland Avenue in April. The Midland Reconstruction Project received a major federal grant, one of many the City of Glenwood Springs has received in recent years.
Chelsea Independent/post-independent

During five meetings over two days, City of Glenwood Springs staff and council members strengthened relationships with key officials and members of Congress in Washington, DC, City Manager Debra Figueroa said.

“Visiting the Capitol allows us to provide the highest levels with a narrative of our community’s needs,” Figueroa explained.

Mayor Jonathan Godes, Councilman Ingrid Wussow and City Attorney Karl Hanlon joined Figueroa in meetings May 12-13 with Sen. John Hickenlooper, D-Colo.; Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo.; and U.S. Representative Lauren Boebert, R-Colo. ; as well as with senior officials from the US Department of Transportation and the Bureau of Land Management.

While the group covered a range of topics, Godes said one of the main goals was to raise awareness of the city’s funding needs through the USDOT Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) discretionary grant program. .

Funding from the grant could help the Colorado Department of Transportation fill a $24.5 million funding gap for a multimodal rural network on the West Slope, dubbed the Multimodal Options Project for a Vibrant and Equitable West Slope: The Westward Three (MOVE: W3).

MOVE: W3 could establish mobility hubs and improve transit access in three communities along the Interstate 70 corridor: Grand Junction, Rifle and Glenwood Springs, provide affordable transportation options for workers, reduce congestion and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, according to CDOT documents.

USDOT RAISE grants, which were originally created under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act as TIGER grants, can be used for a wide variety of projects, such as bus lanes in Baltimore, Maryland, repairs highway and bridge projects in New Mexico, dock replacements in Alaska and a rail-to-trail project in Arkansas, the USDOT reported.

Joined by CDOT Executive Director Shoshana Lew, the group met with U.S. Undersecretary Polly Trottenberg on May 13 to discuss how these funds could benefit affected communities, as well as the Western Slope, Colorado and travel. national via I-70.

Wussow said Lew represents the interests of the state as a whole, but she was happy to have the opportunity to see Lew in action, noting that Lew may one day be a prime candidate for the Federal Transportation Administration. high level.

During the group’s meeting with Bennett, the senator expressed interest in the rising cost of living in Glenwood Springs, Godes said.

“I was surprised when he asked about the election result of 480 Donegan,” he said. “More people are paying attention to what’s going on in Glenwood Springs than we think.”

Hickenlooper’s schedule didn’t leave him much time to speak with the group, but Wussow said they had quality conversations with his staff.

“Face-to-face relationships are extremely important,” she said. “As a real estate agent, I prefer dealing with local lenders because I want to know who I’m dealing with. I think it was similar, and those in-person meetings create accountability that can get lost with just names. on the nominations.

Godes said the group also highlighted how much a $33 million USDOT rural surface transportation grant could do for a fire escape route in southern Glenwood Springs through the South Bridge project.

On May 13, Boebert met with the group and discussed the challenges facing Glenwood Canyon, Cottonwood Pass and the South Bridge project, he said.

“We had a conversation about how the canyon closure affects Glenwood Springs,” Godes added, “such as the impact on goods and services coming into town and its impact on people traveling on the I- 70 for work.”

While the trip had a calculable cost—about $10,000 paid from the city manager’s administrative budget—the return on investment is more speculative.

“We can’t say that meeting these officials in DC is why we get all the grants we get,” Hanlon said. “But we can say that since we started doing these trips, our grants have grown exponentially.”

Godes said that in addition to building relationships, the in-person meeting gives a grant application a face and allows local representatives to write the narrative behind the funding need.

“When we show up,” he said, “we get grants.”

Figueroa said city officials have visited Washington, DC, every year for about six years, and during that time Glenwood Springs has received more than $24 million in federal, state and local grants.

Godes added, “I know of no other community that has been as successful as we are in leveraging federal and state funds to achieve our goals.

Journalist Ike Fredregill can be reached at 970-384-9154 or by email at [email protected].


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