Rough road for gravel pit

The issue that doomed a gravel-pit proposal on Orchard Mesa this week was the same thing that temporarily derailed the plan last summer — serious safety concerns along 29 3/4 Road.

As Grand Junction City Councilman Tom Kenyon noted during Monday’s discussion of the issue, the road is so narrow that heavy truck traffic to and from the planned gravel pit could force pedestrians to “dive off the road.”

Back in June, when the Grand Junction Planning Commission initially rejected the Schooley-Weaver Partnership proposal for the gravel pit, we argued that either a different route should be required for trucks using the pit, or substantial improvements to 29 3/4 Road should be made to keep pedestrians and trucks separated.

Since then, several ideas have been put forth to improve safety. The ones approved by the Planning Commission included construction of a school bus turnaround on the street and limiting hours of truck operation to avoid conflicts with school children.

But those proposals failed to mollify residents of the area or to alleviate the concerns of most City Council members, who had earlier sent the plan back to the Planning Commission because of safety issues.

That’s understandable, because with up to 150 large gravel trucks lumbering up and down the narrow roadway each day, the potential for conflicts remained, whether with schoolchildren, other pedestrians or other traffic.

We continue to believe that the owners of the planned gravel pit should be able to develop their valuable natural resources. But the City Council has an obligation to make public safety a top priority, as it did Monday night.

A safer approach will be required if the gravel pit near 29 3/4 Road is to be developed.


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