With a few exceptions, the group of projects that lead the list of 2011 top starts for the Mountain States region (Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, Idaho and Montana) are either partially or fully funded by the federal government, and despite an expected post-stimulus financing slowdown, many of them are purely public work. ENR Mountain States will rank the top 25 starts by dollar volume in the April issue of the magazine, but here’s a sneak peek at some (but probably not all) of the projects that will make the list.

The region is fortunate to have a handful of exceptionally large jobs that got under way during calendar year 2011 (and by “under way,” we mean that actual construction began, not just a ceremonial groundbreaking or notice to proceed.) Leading the list are the Eagle P3, a public-private partnership that will build three large commuter rail lines in the Denver area (being constructed by Denver Transit Partners JV), including the line that will connect downtown Denver’s Union Station with Denver International Airport; and the massive NSA Data Center in Utah, also being built by a joint venture team led by Balfour Beatty. Both are heavily funded by federal monies and promise to bring hundreds of construction jobs at their peak.

Other large regional projects come from several market sectors, chief among them health care, schools, infrastructure and institutional buildings.

Large health care projects (in no particular order), that started work in 2011 include the VA replacement hospital in Aurora, Colo. (Kiewit/Turner JV), the Exempla Saint Joseph Heritage Project (Mortenson), a new Kaiser Permanente South Medical Complex in Lone Tree, Colo. (Adolfson & Peterson) and the Rangely District Hospital, Rangely, Colo. (also A&P).

Institutional project starts included the magnificently designed Salt Lake Public Safety Building (Okland Construction), U.S. Federal Courthouse in Salt Lake City (also Okland), NREL’s ESIF Laboratory in Golden, Colo. (JE Dunn), the new Denver Police Crime Lab (also JE Dunn) and the new Provo Recreation Center (Layton).

School projects include Marquez Hall at the Colorado School of Mines in Golden, Colo. (A&P), the Fairplay P-12 School Campus in Fairplay, Colo. (Saunders) and Altamont High School in Altamont, Utah (Westland).

Infrastructure and highway starts include the Terminal Reservoir Replacement Project in Salt Lake City (Alder), a key phase of the massive Southern Delivery System Water Pipeline in southern Colorado (Garney), a key bridge replacement at State Highway 392 over I-25 in Colorado (Edward Kraemer) and UDOT’s SR-252 in West Cache County, Utah (Staker Parson).

The top 25 project starts were chosen from multiple research sources, including F.W. Dodge data, surveys submitted by the contractors themselves and independent verification conducted from multiple sources. The list reveals a surprisingly healthy group of large- and middle-sized projects that will add significantly to the landscape of the region for years to come. Watch for the complete ranked list in the April 23 issue.