County to finish 33 Road project, with reservations
The Mesa County Commission on Monday signed off on completing an eight-year road project in Clifton, but not before two of its three members reiterated their disdain for spending more capital money on that end of the valley.
The board voted 2–1 to award a $938,000 contract to Dirtworks Construction LLC of Grand Junction to finish a series of improvements to 33 Road.
The county has been working for six years to overhaul 33 Road between D 1/2 Road and U.S. Highway 6, a project that has entailed widening the road to three lanes, with a center turn lane, and installing curb, gutter and sidewalk on both sides of the street. Workers also replaced a bridge over the Grand Valley Canal. The last phase of work covers E 1/2 Road north to the Union Pacific Railroad tracks between E 3/4 Road and U.S. 6.
The county has received $1.2 million in grant funding for the roughly $8 million project.
Commissioners Craig Meis and Janet Rowland have long claimed Clifton and nearby Fruitvale have received a disproportionate share of county resources and vowed to shut off the funding spigot once the current construction work in the area is done. They repeated those stances Monday.
“I’m just not going to vote for any more projects in the Clifton area. I can’t do it in good conscience,” said Rowland, who had asked that the award of the construction contract be moved off the commission’s consent agenda so the board could discuss it at greater length, before casting a ‘no’ vote.
Saying she doesn’t support “redistribution of wealth on any level,” Rowland said other areas of the county have been subsidizing Clifton and Fruitvale for “far, far too long.”
“I thought they would take responsibility for themselves and they chose not to,” Rowland said, referring to previous inquiries by the county as to whether Clifton and Fruitvale residents and business owners were interested in either annexing into Grand Junction or approving a sales tax to help pay for capital improvements. Both ideas were rejected.
County Engineering Director Mike Meininger discouraged commissioners from not completing the remaining one-third mile of the project, saying having a two-lane road section sandwiched between three-lane road sections would create a traffic safety problem.
Meis said although the county should have scaled back the project earlier, and that he agreed with much of what Rowland said, “we can’t have a bottleneck out there for safety reasons.”
Commissioner Steve Acquafresca, who has consistently disagreed with Meis and Rowland on the issue and opposed any new tax in Clifton and Fruitvale, said he approved of finishing the project.