Hello Park County,
As most of you know, CDOT has finally decided to move forward with removing the traffic light at the intersection of US285 and CR-43a as soon as August of this year. Leading up to this point we were told that additional community input would be sought before proceeding, but we now know that this is not the case. Unless someone takes action, the light will be removed, and we will be left with whatever CDOT decides to do.
The intersection in question serves hundreds (if not thousands) of residents every day. It is home to the busiest gas station in the state. And it serves as access to many of the amenities we use every day, such as the Crow Hill Bible Church, Dellwood Liquor, Olga’s Eatery, Mudslingers, and the Dollar General. But most importantly, it serves as one of the only exits for many of our residents from neighborhoods that may be threatened by a fire or other natural disaster.
The ‘plan’ (as far as we know) from CDOT is to re-route most of the existing traffic to the flyover at CR-72, while making some minor improvements to the northbound onramp onto US285. This is, in a word, insane.
I will sometimes take Deer Creek Road onto US285 to avoid the light. Heck, most of us do from time to time. But can you imagine that road being used non-stop by gas tankers? Semis? 5th wheels? Can you imagine all the traffic from our residents (not to mention the busiest gas station in the state) using this road daily?
Not only is the road not appropriate for such traffic, but it goes directly in front of the PCFPD Station. We have all seen the backups on US285 on a Friday night. How would it work for that traffic to be sitting on Deer Creek Road blocking the exit from the fire station? One of my opponents has suggested putting an emergency light there, but that is just a band aid on a bullet hole. What good does a light do when the cars are already stacked up in front of the entrance?
Those are simply some of the logistical issues. But let’s face it: CDOT doesn’t care about the residents of Park County. They just want to make it easier for the Front Range folk to tow their trailers through our county. They have not given any thought to how it will impact the lives and safety of us, the people of Park County.
Have they done a traffic study? An environmental study? Any studies at all? I asked this question of Richard Elsner this past Thursday and was answered with “I don’t know”. He then proceeded to deflect on the issue, even going so far as to say, “this could be a great thing for Burland”. A great thing for Burland? What about everyone else?
A few weeks ago, the BOCC, led by Commissioner Richard Elsner, crafted a ‘sternly worded letter’ to CDOT complaining that Park County was not informed early enough about CDOT’s plans. I was shocked. Mr. Elsner, a voting member of the CDOT State Transportation Advisory Committee, had the nerve to feign surprise at this turn of events. And now that the plans have become public knowledge he has done exactly…..nothing. Well, that is not true. He has taken the time to defend the move, while belittling anyone who has a valid concern about how it will affect their lives and the lives of their neighbors. This is the opposite of what a commissioner should do. The BOCC exists to defend the rights and concerns of their constituents. To fight for the betterment of Park County. To craft plans and solutions. Not to roll over and accept the whims of outside bodies whose very board they sit on.
While CDOT is hosting a meeting to go over the plans on July 9th, this is an informational meeting. As in sharing their plans with us. It is not a community input meeting as was promised. They are telling, not asking.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not fundamentally opposed to removal of the traffic light. I am opposed to its removal without a valid plan that will address the many safety concerns associated with its removal. Should CDOT want to move forward, they should do so while providing the money and resources to Park County to fix the issue. Not just from a US285 perspective, but from a community perspective. We cannot and will not allow them to move forward in such a way that ignores the concerns and welfare of our great residents.
The Park County BOCC should fight this. Mr. Richard Elsner should fight this. And if they do not, then we as a community must fight this. We must make our concerns heard. We must demand our concerns be heard. And we must not accept any solutions that don’t put Park County first.
As always, just trying to do what’s best for #AllofPark.
Candidate for County Commissioner, District 2.