After months of committe meetings, letter-writing and town-hall style get-togethers, Bailey-area residents have apparently made their voices heard.
Evidence of that came earlier this week with the Colorado Department of Transportation’s announcement that it would delay its plans for improving U.S. Highway 285 as part of a $1.3 million project that was originally scheduled to begin this spring.
Local citizens have voiced unified opposition to the plan since it was publically anounced by CDOT, especially as it pertains to the planned removal of a traffic light at the busy intersection of U.S. Highway 285 and Park County Road 43A.
Organized opposition to the plan has been spearheaded by SAFE-285, a recently formed citizen’s action committee led by local business owner and longtime Bailey resident, Mark Linné.
“This shows the power of citizens when working together for the common good of their community,” Linné said. “This is a nice first step in the right direction, but we plan to keep the dialogue going with CDOT officials while they consider options.”
CDOT officials met with SAFE-285 members and other concerned citizens via a Zoom meeting Jan. 23. More than 50 citizens attended the meeting in person, while more than a hundred tuned in live via Zoom.
The public statement released earlier this week by CDOT read as follows: Thank you for taking the time to provide feedback on the US 285 Safety Improvements project. CDOT has made the decision to delay the project as we thoroughly review all feedback we have received. Hearing your voice and concern is important to us as we move forward with our mission to make Colorado roadways safer for all users. We ask that you be patient as we move through this next phase of our decision making process. Once we have reached a decision on what the next steps with the project will be, CDOT will reach out to Park County Commissioners as well as the Safe 285 group.Again, thank you for your feedback.
Richard Zamora, P.E.
Region 2 Transportation Director
CDOT’s correspondence did not specify what factors led to its decision to delay the project, but local citizens have sent scores of letters to politicians, CDOT officials and others requesting that the project be reconsidered.
“It is nice to see citizens working with elected officials at the local and state levels, and for all of us to work together to get an end product that works for everyone,” Linne said.
Park County Commissioner Amy Mitchell is one such elected official who has invested considerable time and effort in representing the citizens’ interests and communicating concerns to CDOT.
Mitchell was pleased by CDOT’s decision to, in her words, “put the brakes” on this particular project.
“I am pleased to hear that CDOT has stated its desire to review all of the citizens’ comments, and to have further discussions,” Mitchell said. “It acknowledges that citizens’ concerns are being heard.”
Even though CDOT’s recent announcement is encouraging to the resounding majority of local residents who are opposed to the project, Mitchell says she takes the announcement with cautious optimism.
“We might have won this small battle, but we have not won the war because there is still a decision to be reached,” Mitchell said. “But I am cautiously optimistic.”
Opponents insist that CDOT’s proposed plan, as previously presented, would do little to increase safety, would be extremely burdensome to local residents attempting to enter or exit U.S. Highway 285 on a daily basis and would deal a potentially lethal blow to numerous businesses located northwest of the U.S. 285-CR 43A intersection.
Stay tuned to The Flume for more information as it becomes available.