Energy park-and-ride bustling, CDOT plans improvements
A year-and-a-half ago, Richard Duran landed a job with Grand Valley Vacuum Truck Service. Ever since, his work day has started at the corner of Interstate 70 Business Loop and F Road, waiting for a company-provided ride to De Beque.
“A year before, it was easy to find a parking space; now it is really hard,” Duran said, sitting behind the wheel of his pickup last week.
Duran arrives between 5:15 and 5:30 a.m., along with many other workers, just to ensure he gets a good parking spot. At 6 a.m., Duran boards his company’s Chevrolet Suburban — other companies use school buses, minivans or pickups — for his daily commute.
“It’s too expensive to drive,” Duran said. “This helps us out.”
But the two lots, one on each side of I-70B, north of F Road, are deteriorating. The asphalt is crumbling, there are no striped parking spots, access is poor and lighting is nonexistent.
The Colorado Department of Transportation has noticed the growing popularity of the park-and-rides and is planning to spend about $1 million in federal grants obtained through Mesa County to upgrade the lots next year.
“If they get a bigger park-and-ride, more people will use it,” said Jim, a First Student school bus driver who did not want his last name printed.
The bus is leased by Two in the Loop Inc. to shuttle about 20 workers a day to Parachute.
“Down there,” Jim said, pointing to the north end of the lot, “are some holes big enough to swallow my bus.”
CDOT estimates the lots hold 200 vehicles. After improvements, that could increase to 275.
The lots will be resurfaced, parking spots striped, lighting added, xeriscaping placed around the perimeter, and the access to the east lot will be changed from F Road to Peach Street, said Jean Bierwirth, design projects manager for CDOT.
Ken Simms, senior transportation planning manager for Mesa County’s Regional Transportation Planning Office, said the lots have mirrored the Western Slope’s economy.
During the 1980s, the lots were popular until the oil shale bust, he said.
The planning office conducted an informal survey in July to learn more about who uses the park-and-rides these days.
“We did not find a majority of oil field workers,” Simms said. “It is getting broad use from a broad segment of workers in the valley.”