Plan outline takes many aspects into account

The comprehensive plan that the Grand Junction City Council will review Wednesday isn’t like any other plan in the city’s history because it focuses on more than just infrastructure, transportation or zoning. It takes them all into account.

The plan incorporates a “grand green system” that proposes miles of new trails that would run alongside roadways and canals and connect with parks and the Colorado Riverfront Trail, which is suggested for expansion.

The plan mentions ways of encouraging clean air and water, something U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service employee Rick Krueger said he emphasized as a member of the steering committee. Krueger said he’s pleased with the plan’s provisions and hopes it helps preserve green space. Not planning for growth can be detrimental to waterways and soils, he said.

“There’s always room for more improvement,” he said, such as using the guidelines for actions, like installing separators that keep oil and trash out of the river.

Bike and pedestrian path expansions and decreasing home-to-work or home-to-retail travel is suggested for environmental protection in the plan. The plan also attempts to make transportation easier and keep roads less congested by creating a Mesa Mall to Clifton bus route that may turn into a direct route running alongside the Interstate 70 Business Loop and eventually potentially turning into a train route alongside Union Pacific tracks.

The plan emphasizes planning streets better, so they’re more likely to connect at several points and decrease pressure on main thoroughfares to widen lanes.

In addition, the plan offers guidance for meeting sewer and electricity needs if development expands the way the comprehensive plan suggests. It may get those areas ready before development goes in by gradually adding projects to the city’s list.

The plan has more in it than Councilman Gregg Palmer could have imagined when he and former Councilman Jim Spehar worked on the original idea in a council subcommittee, he said.

“It’s an absolutely wonderful legacy for all members of council that have worked on it,” Palmer said.

Spehar said the comprehensive plan could save some headaches as well as some money, because developments that may have gobbled up cheaper land on the outskirts of the city would have increased the time and gas needed to provide services farther and farther away from the city’s center.

“There’s two ways to have growth,” Spehar said. “You can have development and have services and infrastructure chase it, or the other approach is to be more proactive and determine how people want areas to grow and then use infrastructure to direct that growth in that fashion. The first way is generally more expensive.”


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