Hope, but no change
April 28, 2015
County Road 804, the road that bends around behind Safeway, is the most heavily afficked county road in all of Grand County, according to county commissioner, James Newberry, in a meeting Thursday, April 16.
That road is getting some long-needed repairs. Construction will begin in May with completion by October in a joint effort between the county, the town of Fraser and the Winter Park Ranch Water & Sanitation District. Several representatives from these groups, EMTs and law enforcement crowded the Old Church in Fraser, vastly outnumbering the five residents who showed up to hear it.
The plan calls for a top-to-bottom replacement of the asphalt with concrete drain pans along either side to correct the advanced erosion along this road and down the face of the ridge. The asphalt driving portion of the road will be thoroughly renewed and somewhat narrowed.
Unfortunately, there is no consideration or provision for pedestrian traffic in the new plan. This is a dangerous road and I feel there's a chance that this plan may actually worsen existing conditions. According to the presentation at the meeting, people are expected to walk up and down the drain pans that may be running full of water, or worse, completely iced over.
"Hope" was the exact term expressed in the meeting that cars would slow down for the people who were either wallowing in, or sliding down the drain pans.
The reason it's the most heavily-trafficked road in the county is because nobody has ever dared to walk it twice. CR 804 may well have been the inspiration for the video game "Frogger."
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I know it would be going the extra mile, so to speak, but I feel the plan is incomplete without the human aspect. A path that joined the top of the ridge to the Fraser Trail would be difficult. A safe walking path alongside the road would be difficult. Any solution could be difficult. But a community that is unwilling to make difficult choices narrows its options.
Think of the tourist who books sight-unseen up on the ridge. Think of them trying to make it alive to the Safeway deli, or God help them, the liquor store. They run the very real risk of leaving the county horizontally or wrapped in plaster. They won't be back. We'll lose them to Breckenridge or some other place that makes infrastructure decisions based upon developing return business.
The cost of the project was pegged at $1.5 million. Initially, pedestrian safety was discussed in the mix but discarded along the way due to the expense. But really, how expensive would a 4 feet wide path be on the right of the road as you go down? There would be a few driveways to cross before crossing 804 to join the existing path down to Safeway, but to the untrained eye it looks like it could be done with a couple of days and a Bobcat.
I suspect a few property owners would get their undies in a bunch. But for goodness' sake, if Granby can annex a whole city block at the drop of a dispensary, why can't Fraser and the county get a 300-yard footpath?
I often have ideas that straddle the narrow spectrum between dumb and dumber, but if the county and the town really can't afford it, maybe it could be crowdfunded. I'd contribute. Maybe you would to.
Here's James' address: email@example.com Write and ask him to revisit the safety of CR 804 foot traffic.