Photo: Rendering of the new Transit Maintenance Facility, to be located on the north side of CR 5 in Fraser

On Wednesday, Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet announced the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) will receive a $12 million Buses and Bus Facilities Program grant from the Department of Transportation (DOT) to help fund construction of the new transit facility for Grand County’s only form of public transportation, The Lift. Earlier this month, Bennet sent a letter to Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao advocating for the grant.

 “The Lift has been extremely valuable for residents and visitors of Grand County – as the only public transportation in all of the county, modernizing its facilities will set The Lift up for success well into the future,” said Bennet. “Investments in transportation infrastructure like this strengthen and connect our communities and boost local economies, and I’m glad the Town of Winter Park has received this much-needed $12 million grant to help advance that goal.”

Winter Park Mayor Jimmy Lahrman stated, “The Lift has become a staple in the Fraser Valley and this grant allows us to take the next step in building a world-class transit system. Since a voter-approved sales tax for transit was passed in November of 2015, the Town and our partners have worked hard to ensure we’re providing a valuable service to our community, both locally and regionally.”

Transit manager Michael Koch said, “This award is a community success due to the efforts by the residents who passed the sales tax, to our riders, our guests, our committed staff at the Town, and our transit partners. This sort of funding for rural public transit is unheard of, particularly for this grant program.” 

The funds were awarded through the DOT’s Buses and Bus Facilities (FTA 5339) grant program, which assists transit systems across the country in the financing of buses and bus facilities capital projects. The total budget for the grant program in 2019 was $423 million, and 3% will go towards the transit facility in Winter Park. “This is a huge accomplishment and accolade for our community to garner this much attention and support from the federal level,” said Koch.

The grant award is estimated to cover approximately 60% of the cost of the new transit facility. With another potential capital grant award from CDOT, the Town could cover up to 80% of the cost for the facility through grants, potentially saving taxpayers up to $16 million dollars.

“I am beyond elated for this success,” said Koch, adding, “congratulations to all of us!”

Construction on the new facility is slated to begin in 2020. When complete, the $20 million transit facility will be the hub for operations and maintenance of the Lift fleet.