Crowded in Clifton

Motorists who drive through downtown Clifton on a daily basis — especially during morning and evening rush hours — know it can be a bear turning onto F Road from a side street or accessing one of the numerous businesses that line the roadway, which is also U.S. Highway 6.

So the proposal by the Colorado Department of Transportation and Mesa County to close many of the access points along the road is not without merit. Something will undoubtedly have to be done to improve traffic flow as the number of vehicles on the road increases or gridlock will be inevitable.

Even so, it’s not hard to understand the concerns of people such as District 51 School Board member Ron Rowley and some local business folks. The plan proposed likely will mean more difficult access and additional cost for Clifton Elementary School and for a number of businesses along the F Road corridor.

Furthermore, the proposed road work calls for lopping off most of what is now the Clifton Elementary
playground to create a new bus loop for the school. Clifton Elementary already has one of the smallest playgrounds in the district. And there is no discussion in the proposal of where funding would come from to construct a new playground or bus loop.

In fact, there is little indication of when funding will be available for any of the project, and that’s the primary reason no one should panic over the proposal now. The Colorado Department of
Transportation is looking at budget shortfalls for the immediate future, and even high-priority projects may be delayed. Reducing access points along Highway 6 through Clifton is not at the top of the priority list.

But it likely will become a higher priority if traffic increases to even a fraction of what has been projected — a near tripling of vehicles over the next 25 years. Long before it reaches that point, state and county transportation officials must work with the school district and area business people to ensure there is reasonable, cost-effective alternative access to Clifton Elementary and local retail outlets along Highway 6.


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