Survey: Voters back beltway completion

If the results of the April election look anything like the initial Survey on Future City Capital Projects, voters will support a question leading to the completion of the beltway connecting the community.

“This was ... kind of to test the waters, and we feel overwhelmingly, people see transportation projects as important,” said Betsy Bair, Governmental Affairs Manager with the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce, which conducted the survey.

Bair presented the results to the Grand Junction City Council Monday evening. Council members then talked about the next step as open houses or informational campaigns to gather additional input about what projects are a priority for residents.

What led to the survey is a possible ballot question for funds to complete the beltway – a $60 million project that would include a 29 Road Interchange, connecting 29 Road from Patterson to Interstate 70 and widening 24 Road from Patterson to I-70. If they are to ask voters to use funds that exceed the limits of the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, known as TABOR, it will have to be decided by February.

The chamber surveyed about 1,500 members and another 283 people from a cross section of the community, with similar results in each group, Bair said. Out of public safety, parks, transportation or other, transportation was considered the top area for future city investment by more than half of those surveyed.

In an open-ended question, residents most often mentioned 29 Road and the Interchange with I-70 at the top of their lists. Other responses included North Avenue redevelopment, completion of the Riverfront Trail and more trails and parks.

Then, when asked about whether to continue using TABOR to fund their top projects, about 74 percent said “yes.”

City officials said a key piece to focus on with voters is the benefit and that it is not an increase in taxes, but rather a reallocation. To continue using these funds that voters agreed five years ago to use to pay off the Riverside Parkway loan to avoid additional interest charges, and not result in a refund situation, the city needs to go back to voters in April.

Results show that there is “an appetite” to continue this discussion and that people want to know exactly what project their money is being used for, Bair said.

■ In other council news, Parks and Recreation Director Rob Schoeber updated members about Three Sisters Park, a 137-acre property adjacent to the Lunch Loop Trails.

This Saturday, Colorado Plateau Mountain Bike Trail Association will be out constructing the first trail. It is a small children’s bike loop, Schoeber said.

The first stage of the project is this trail and signage, and everything is being looked at in a “slow, methodical approach,” he said.

A number of public meetings have been held and the city and Mesa Land Trust are incorporating the feedback into the development of this recreation area.


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