Whitewater has planners looking at down road at U.S. 50 freeway

The population of Whitewater has been projected to grow so much during the next three decades that U.S. Highway 50 may need to be eight lanes wide.

“If we want to maintain the levels of service, we may want to have six lanes, maybe even eight lanes, as we get close to the Colorado River. That is a lot,” said Ken Simms transportation planner for the Regional Transportation Planning Office. “Roughly, we are talking about 7,500 new homes, and there is usually 2.5 persons per household.”

The foundations for change to this community south of Grand Junction are being laid. The Clifton Sanitation District is prepared to handle sewerage, and this past week the Mesa County Commission approved the rezoning of 478 acres in Whitewater to accommodate a future business park and housing development southeast of the Mesa County Landfill.

The Regional Transportation Planning Office in conjunction with the Colorado Department of Transportation, the city of Grand Junction and the engineering firm of PBS&J recently completed a traffic study of the U.S. Highway 50 corridor from the Colorado River bridge to Colorado Highway 141 in Whitewater.

Part of the traffic plan calls for nine additional traffic signals, costing between $300,000 and $500,000 each,
Simms said. Other proposed changes to the thoroughfare, such as numerous closures or changes to access routes to the highway, won’t occur until development dictates the changes be made over the next 15 to 20 years, Simms said.

The massive housing and industrial park in Whitewater that received rezoning approval from the county commission is being developed by Whitewater Development LLC. Manager Steve Hejl said the company is slowing down on the residential aspect because of a flattening in the housing market but is pushing forward with industrial development.

“I think there is a need for that industrial ground, not necessarily the residential,” Hejl said.

Hejl has the entire 478 acres listed for sale for $5.7 million. When asked about it, Hejl said he is just keeping options open.

In expectation of development, the county has approved a public improvement and a wastewater district for the area. Hejl said the districts will ensure there is a revenue base for future services.

“So the rest of the county does not have to pay (to provide basic services to the area),” he said.

The Clifton Sanitation District is considering a proposal from the county to process wastewater from Whitewater.

“The district is looking favorably on an agreement with Whitewater at this point,” said Brian Woods, manager of Clifton Sanitation. “I think it is beneficial to the community that we provide the service.”


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