Work to begin on highway intersection in Whitewater

Mesa County is pursuing another road project in the Whitewater area, awarding a contract this week to improve the intersection of Coffman Road and Colorado Highway 141.

The project is just the latest in a number of steps the county and other community partners are taking to improve infrastructure in the Whitewater area — at one time envisioned to be a key spot for population before growth projections for the region slowed precipitously.

Commissioners awarded the nearly $400,000 contract to local firm Elam Construction, which submitted the lowest of five bids for the project. The company is expected to begin the earthwork and eventual paving at the intersection within days, adding acceleration and deceleration lanes to the intersection. Elam is compelled contractually to be finished with the project within 45 days. Traffic may be re-routed during construction.

The county a couple of years ago realigned Coffman Road, and an access permit to Colorado 141 it holds with the state required the improvements once there was a 20 percent gain in traffic at the intersection.

With the county building a new home for Animal Services along with a new Road and Bridge shop in the north end of the Whitewater area, and a number of other commercial facilities moving in along Coffman Road, the amount of traffic headed south has increased.

Mesa County also is building a new stretch of road in the area, the east-west Hookless Boulevard, which runs by a new Colorado Mesa University forensics study facility and will connect with U.S. 50 when completed.

The road project fits with the county’s Whitewater Community Plan, which when originally completed envisioned infrastructure buildout to support a community of about 20,000 people, county Public Works Director Pete Baier said.

“Of course, we all know that five years ago we thought full buildout would be in about 15 years, Now we’re thinking it’s going to be longer obviously,” Baier said. “But this area is primed for growth.”

Roads are just one part of the recent infrastructure improvements to the area.

According to Baier, water systems in the Whitewater area have expanded by a factor of 10, Source Gas has provided natural gas for the entire area targeted for growth and Grand Valley Power’s recent extension of its facilities all the way to Gateway will be advantageous for development in Whitewater as well.

The county also recently improved sewer service to the area, building a wastewater collection system that connects into the Clifton Sanitation District.

Regarding the road project specifically, Baier said the improvements are key to future commercial development, as businesses who decide to move into the area end up funding projects like the Coffman Road improvements through the impact fees they pay.

“This helps keep us ahead of development, and allows (new businesses) to move in and get their projects done quickly,” Baier told commissioners.

“I believe this is a good investment, as it’s providing infrastructure that we need now, and we know we certainly are going to need in the future,” Commissioner Steve Acquafresca said.


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