CDOT plan would restrict access to U.S. 40 between Granby and Red Dirt Hill
February 20, 2008
After listening to a room full of concerned landowners and business owners, the Grand County Board of County Commissioners went ahead with the approval of the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) master plan for access to U.S. Highway 40 between Granby and Red Dirt Hill.
In granting approval, the commissioners said it is “contingent upon an IGA (inter-governmental agreement)” that would deal with all the concerns expressed about protecting existing highway access. They also stipulated that no changes would be made until fully developed alternate access plans have been implemented.
The IGA would have to be worked out between CDOT, Grand County and the town of Granby. Before the IGA is approved, the commissioners said the public will be given a chance to comment upon it.
The CDOT master plan is for a 7-mile stretch of Highway 40 from the top of Red Dirt Hill north to the start of the downtown area of Granby. Within that seven-mile area, there are 65 identified access points that include road intersections and junctions as well as home and business driveways.
What the CDOT plan calls for is reducing the number of access points along the 7-mile stretch only after significant development occurs. In the areas that are developed, existing properties would be linked by “collector roads” which would funnel traffic to the designated access points on Highway 40.
Grand County Planning Director Chris Mancuso explained that if the entire corridor were to be fully developed, the 65 access points would be reduced to “between 25 and 30.” However, she stressed that in reality only those sections of the highway adjacent to a major new developments would see any changes.
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Also arguing for the plan was Dan Roussin, CDOT’s Permit Unit Manager, who said the state agency had developed the plan to improve “safety and traffic flow” on that section of the highway. He described it as a “long-term plan” that would be a “blueprint for Highway 40.” It also includes potential signal light locations.
“We want defined points of access,” Roussin said. “We want to consolidate the accesses and put them where they make the most sense.”
Both Mancuso and Roussin repeatedly stressed that no current accesses would be closed now or in the near future. Any access changes would only be made after an area adjacent to the highway has been developed and the “collector roads” are constructed.
“If nothing is developed, no changes to access will be made,” Roussin said.
Despite the assurances, several local residents and business owners within the 7-mile highway area raised strenuous objections to the plan.
Several business owners questioned how semitrailers trying to reach their businesses could access their property when the plan calls for allowing on “right-in, right-out” access.
Others expressed concerns about the effect of the changes on their value and use of their property.
Rod McGowan, who has a law office on the highway, said he was worried it would “put restrictions on our property,” saying that was “not right.”
Ron Jones, the owner of Grand Central Storage, said these proposed access changes were being driven by major new developments in the Granby area.
“Is it fair that this is being done for the new guys to the detriment to the people who have been here for years,” Jones said. He asked the commissioners to prevent any changes that result in “hurting the little guy.”
One of the biggest concerns by those opposed to the CDOT plan was its published map. On the map marked in red were the proposed access points. The maps also showed the proposed “collector roads” in yellow.
Several opponents pointed out the yellow-colored “collector roads” crossed several property lines as well as difficult terrain features. In response, Mancuso and Roussin said the yellow lines were “only conceptual plans,” and that the specific routes would be worked out later.
Grand County Manager Lurline Underbrink Curran pointed out the only thing that would be approved in the master plan would be the “red lines.” Also voicing support for the CDOT plan was Granby Mayor Ted Wang, who said the specifics would be “fleshed out in the IGA.”
In granting their contingent approval for the CDOT plan, the commissioners said they had heard and were taking into consideration the public concerns.
Commissioner Nancy Stuart said she wanted to make sure that landowners and business owners “don’t lose their access or the changes cost them an arm and a leg.”
Commissioner James Newberry agreed, saying he expected the major developers to “show responsibility” for the access changes. He also assured property and business owners that “nothing will be allowed to change until acceptable alternatives are in place.”