County, city spend $2 million to clear path for 29 Road work

Not one dozer blade has broken ground for the 29 Road extension project from D Road north to the Interstate 70 Business Loop, and already the county has doled out $1,052,332 and the city of Grand Junction $997,224 to land owners.

The money paid for property, temporary and permanent easements and reimbursement for damage such as the loss of views and access.

The process of acquiring land to widen 29 Road and take it up and over Union Pacific Railroad lines started in January 2008. Now, more than a year later, the county has but one land owner to negotiate with, and the city has seven. Of the seven, the city has written agreements with five and is in negotiations with two.

“So we are both getting pretty close,” said Kristin Winn, public information coordinator for the city.
Winn and Pete Baier, director of public works for the county, said budgets are matching expectations.

“We are pretty much right on (target) where we thought we would be,” Baier said.

None of the property has been acquired using condemnation powers, said Stacey Mascarenas, property acquisition specialist for the county.

The estimated price tag for building the overpass has increased from $29 million a year ago to $32 million, Winn said.

A main reason for the increase is Union Pacific Railroad’s desire to have more space under the overpass for future rail lines, Winn said. That has forced engineers to design a longer bridge and change locations of on/off ramps and other features.

But the final price may be less than officials are estimating. Given the economy, construction companies are becoming more competitive, which could result in a more favorable bidding environment for the city and the county, Winn said.

Bids and bidders are on the mind of Jim Coleman, owner of Western Implement’s Ranch Rite Hardware, 2919 North Ave. The county has yet to acquire three acres of his property. The loss of land will affect Western Implement’s annual farm auction, perhaps making it smaller and a twice-a-year event, Coleman said.

“It is not going to affect how we do day-to-day business. The only thing it will affect is our auction,” Coleman said. “The auction will just have to be scaled down.”

Other property owners have been affected. A couple lots, including the homes, had to be purchased outright. Others will have walls erected for entrance and exit ramps, which will block views, and still others have had access changed.

Construction is anticipated to start this year. With an 18-month construction schedule, the overpass could be done in 2010, Baier said.


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