Printed Letters: June 9, 2017

Tipton, improve and pass the RECLAIM Act

Rep. Scott Tipton needs to make sure the RECLAIM Act remains as intended to help regions that have been left with abandoned coal mines. The version of the RECLAIM Act that Sen. Mitch McConnell and Rep. Hal Rogers recently introduced does not live up to the original intent of the bill.

It does not live up to our Western Slope need for the RECLAIM Act. The $1 billion investment in cleaning up old abandoned mining sites is more than a matter of reclaiming the land — it’s also about rebuilding communities hit hardest by the coal industry’s downturn by empowering them to spur economic growth.

The original RECLAIM Act had specific language to maximize economic development and diversification on the cleanup sites, as well as prioritized local input on project proposals and how they’d be run. The whole purpose behind this language was to let the people chart their own course and be less beholden to one single industry. Most folks agree that more job opportunities from new and diverse industries would be a good thing.

Rep. Tipton must defend the original provisions in the RECLAIM Act and get it passed in Congress. It’s important to Western Colorado and to our state as a whole.

Grand Junction

Stop the projected 
Redlands roundabout

The U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment allows the people to petition the government for grievances. But the 1,082 Redlands petition signers and 10 small business owners who oppose CDOT’s unnecessary roundabout project must compete with a $4 million handout from Uncle Sam.

Colorado Department of Transportation is the epitome of bureaucracy. It is a state branch of the FHWA (Federal Highway Administration) of the U.S. Department of Transportation. State legislators and congressmen are reluctant to deal with multiple layers of appointed officials, such as the FHWA “national safety expert,” the State Transportation Commission, and the Regional Transportation Committee. These commissioners and committee members, who appear to be advocates for the citizens, usually rubberstamp CDOT’s projects and are only allowed to “set priorities.”

In 1994 the State Transportation Commission even delegated eminent domain decisions to state engineers, a move the Colorado Supreme Court “characterized as an ‘abdication of the commission’s statutory duty,’” the Denver Post reported.

“(The commission) ... exists in part ‘to protect the landowners against attempts by the agency to lay claim to their land…’” The state commission and CDOT violated state law for 22 years before a lawsuit caused the court to yank their claims.

Redlands residents have worked for months to stop the projected roundabout because the city’s 2015 traffic count at this intersection (more than 27,000 vehicles per day) exceeds the FHWA’s single roundabout capacity (a maximum 26,000 vehicles per day). CDOT’s application for the federal grant underreported the traffic count as 12,300 vehicles per day, thus exaggerating the “high rate of 28 accidents” that occurred between 2011 and 2015 — actually an average of one crash per 1.76 million vehicles. According to CDOTs more recent report, “the percentage of all crashes attributed to distracted driving spiked significantly between 2011 and 2015” across the state. (The nanny state can never prevent all accidents when teens, texters, speeders and drunks are on the road.)

This agency is insulated from public opinion because the four local members of the GJRTC/MPO “advisory committee,” none of whom live on the Redlands, voted for this project in 2012 but have no power to cancel it. (Redlands residents never heard of the project until 2016.) CDOT has an obvious incentive to push such unpopular projects because “free” federal grant money pays for local jobs. They have ignored the objections of 1,000 residents and small businesses and sentenced us to prolonged traffic diversions of up to a year, after which the new intersection will be confusing to drivers and less safe for pedestrians. Why aren’t local and state officials elected by the people standing up to these bureaucratic bullies?

CDOT’s defense is that roundabouts not only prevent injury accidents, but also “prevent idling and pollution.” The long lines of slow traffic will increase idling and pollution. CDOT now says only the city of Grand Junction, which initially referred the project, can call a hall to it. (The city’s planning department wrongly handed CDOT a project that City Council members never voted for.) Redlands drivers should be able to pass on the valley’s 18th roundabout while state highways are in need of repair. Please find the city of Grand Junction in your phone book and tell council members and the city manager to say no to CDOT.

Grand Junction


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The Gsell Dynamic Duo, you state ” Redlands residents have worked .......  ” That should say that a few Redlands residents have made the proposed roundabout a political issue. They give themselves away by the use of words like “nanny state” and other sly terms to indicate that the CDOT is a monstrous bureaucracy. The letter is a tediously long representing nothing but a political “issue” that they want to win over the “progressive” elements in town. Progressive meaning those that want a better functioning community. On a number of occasions I have already had to wait for two light sequences to cross the intersection. A roundabout would solve that as long as people don’t sit and wait for an unreasonably long opening. Roundabouts are scaled so that speeds are low so that people can enter quickly even though there are vehicles already in the circle. Traffic can only get worse in the Redlands. This is a crucial intersection and a roundabout is needed. The proponents say they have a petition with over 1000 names on it. How many families are in the Redlands and how many non-Republicans have signed? Stop the political nonsense and get the traffic moving.

Mr Borgen
  The roundabout in the Redlands will be a complete disaster and a waste of money regardless of what political bent anyone is.  The traffic moves just find as it is.

Stop the projected 
Redlands roundabout ...

27,000 vehicles per day? That’s 1125 vehicles per hour in a 24 hour time span. Compress that into 18 hours, traffic volume between 11PM & 5AM being minimal that translates into approx. 1500 vehicles per hour in the eighteen hours between 5AM & 11PM.
I live in the 81507 Redlands zip code area and drive thru this intersection almost on a daily basis. Rarely have I seen traffic volume to the extent your numbers reflect.

Blosser, I disagree. That is my opinion. Roundabouts are not a fashion item, here today, gone tomorrow. They work. They cut accidents, they move traffic better and they do stop most of idling at intersections. The Gsells are more concerned about government involvement than they are in traffic safety. In fact they know zip about traffic safety. The traffic doesn’t move find(sic) just as it is.  Roundabouts are not just another way to spend taxpayers money. There are more and more of them acrosss the country and other parts of the world. it is because they work.

P Currie-Mills, I also live in 81507 and go through that intersection daily. I have done so for 23 years and it has become more and more congested every year. First, I offered no numbers. They came from the Gsell’s. Second, they are averages. There are some times of the day that it is very congested. You know as well as I that this is a political campaign, not a safety issue, per se. Finally, I heard a lot about children safety for a while. In twenty three years, I have NEVER seen anybody, children or adults, trying to cross the street there. The fact that it is a political issue is clear because both you and Mr.Blosser are conservative commenters in this venue. How many familes are there compared to the Redlands population that are on your petitions and how many signers of the petitions are non-Republicans?
Do you appreciate the fact that you have a firestation on the Redlands? Mr Gsell volunteered for an opening on the Rural Fire Dept. board specifically to keep that station from existing. It was an intrusion by government, would cost taxpayer money and wasn’t needed. So he said. Do you agree?
The Gsells are political on everything they do. The roundabout is just the latest. It is needed—period.

John Borgen, the numbers for this intersection seem inflated.
That is what I was responding to ...
Frankly, I’m neither for or against the proposed Redlands roundabout.
However, on my fairly frequent trips to the front range I see where roundabouts in Vail, Copper Mountain, Dillon and several other Mountain communities (also our own recently completed Horizon Drive) on I-70 seem to work reasonably well.

P Currie-Mills, than you for the comments.I don’t know if the Gsell,s inflated the numbers or not. I consider that irrelevant. I agree on the roundabouts along I70. My sister lives in Bend, Oregon where I think the roundabout count exceeds 30 now. It makes a huge difference in traffic congestion and, from what I hear, both the accident rate is down, but more importantly, the severity of the crashes that do occur is way down. It works and is already working here. It should not be a political issue.

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