Riverside Parkway opens to much fanfare

No. 9 of the Top Ten stories for 2008

Beneath an arc of balloons, go-karts race around the ramp from northbound Fifth Streeet to the Riverside Parkway before Friday’s ribbon cutting and opening ceremony

The largest public works initiative in Grand Junction’s history opened in 2008 to fanfare that rivaled the money expended to complete it and the headaches created by its construction.

City officials broke out an airplane demonstration, go-kart racing, a vintage car show and memorabilia-shooting cannons for the hundreds of people who turned out Aug. 15 to celebrate the completion of the seven-mile Riverside Parkway.

The opening of the $110 million project, which came in 25 percent over its construction budget but 15 months ahead of schedule, was deemed the No. 9 local news story of 2008 by Daily Sentinel news staff.

City engineers spent nearly a decade planning, designing and building the road as a way to relieve traffic congestion downtown and along U.S. Highway 6&50.

Within a month, the road that runs along the southern portion of town between 24 and 29 roads was already reaping rewards for drivers. Traffic counts showed the number of cars traveling on U.S. Highway 6&50 at Rimrock Avenue was down an average of 31 percent, while the number of cars on First Street just south of White Avenue was down an average of 36 percent.

But the parkway is expected to do more than offer a break from backups.

The road made driving safer by eliminating railroad crossings at 24 3/4 Road and just west of Fifth Street. It enhanced access to the growing Pear Park and Orchard Mesa communities and presented a new southern entrance to the heart of the city. It encouraged people to get around without getting in their car by featuring a continuous sidewalk and bike lanes.

The parkway also is expected to spark development along its route and open up previously rarely accessed areas to 19,000 vehicles a day.

“It’s not just what it is now,” said the city’s Public Works and Planning Director Tim Moore of the parkway’s influence. “It’s about the other projects that are planned in the next 30 years.”


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