Long-awaited truck route construction set to begin in Delta
Like other towns across the country, Delta enjoyed a housing boom five or six years ago when credit was easy and some people were cashing in on home equity to move up. At the height of the boom, the town of Delta issued 110 single-family building permits in one year.
After the bust, the town issued four building permits in 2010 and another four in 2011, according to Glen Black, community development director for the city of Delta. Although the six permits issued this year represent a 50 percent increase in the number of new housing permits issued by the city, the new construction market has in no way begun to recover in Delta.
As the builder who was issued the majority of the new housing permits in Delta, Lynn Tallent is building affordable homes in a joint venture with Home Loan Bank in Grand Junction. Because the prior owner couldn’t make the payments, Home Loan owned 13 lots in the Emerald Hills subdivision off 1600 Road. The bank tried to sell the lots, but couldn’t find buyers with sufficient cash. So it contacted Tallent in 2010 to talk about building affordable spec homes.
“Our buying market is in the ($)140s,” said Tallent, who is putting the finishing touches on the eighth home he’s built at Emerald Hills. Tallent was a building official in the Montrose and Delta area for more than a decade before he started his own construction management company.
“It’s a struggle to keep homes below $150,000,” Tallent said.
While some other subdivisions in Delta area seeing a tiny bit of activity with the building of an occasional custom home, some developments that never got beyond preliminary planning have reverted back to farmland. Others, like Stone Mountain on the north side of Delta wait for better times. The development, which has streets as well as water and sewer taps, has changed ownership several times in the last few years.
The economy might be tough, but the city of Delta is moving forward with plans for a truck route that will divert truck traffic off Main Street. The truck route, named Confluence Drive, received broad community support, with 77 percent of voters approving a bond issue in 2009 to help fund the project. The project will also include two overpasses at the railroad crossings, which will allow emergency responders to reach the north Delta area even when a long coal train is crossing the tracks.
“That’s one of the primary reasons (for the project),” said Jim Hatheway, public works director for the city of Delta. “These will be the first two overpasses in town.”
The truck route is the largest public works project the city has ever done and construction of the $30 million project is expected to last 12 to 15 months. A groundbreaking ceremony for Confluence Drive will be on Dec. 7 at the intersection of Gunnison River Drive and Palmer Street at 11 a.m.
Hamon Contractors, a heavy highway, road and bridge contractor from the Front Range, will be holding a job fair at the Bill Heddles Recreation Center, 530 Gunnison River Drive in Delta, on Dec. 7 from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. to fill general laborer, crane operator, heavy highway equipment, truck driver and other construction positions for the project.
“We want to hire as much as we can from the local area,” said Brad Davis with Hamon Contractors. “Most positions will last for the duration of the project.”
The truck route will divert truck traffic off Highway 50 at Gunnison River Drive. Confluence Drive will be four lanes, with a median. Speed limits will be higher than those along Main Street to accommodate truck traffic and anyone who is in a hurry to get through town. Although there is some concern from Main Street business owners who fear the route will divert prospective customers from their doors, Hatheway thinks the design of the roadway will keep shoppers and tourists traveling down Main Street.
Drivers in Delta are getting another option for their convenience. Maverik, the Utah company that’s upping the ante for convenience stores across the west, is opening a location in Delta at the intersection of Highway 50 and Highway 92.
“It’s a high-profil corner,” said Black. “We’re glad to see it come to town.”
Although the corner used to be home to a convenience store, it had been shuttered for a few years before Maverik bought the land. The land deal was for 6.5 acres and the company only needs 1.5 for the store. Brian Mason is listing the remaining acreage for sale. Rumors are currently flying that a Denver developer is hoping to bring a national drugstore to the corner.
Times may be tough, but the city of Delta is growing, making improvements and hoping they will improve the livability of the area.