Weld Commissioners tussle over Weld County Road 29 reclassification
April 3, 2017
Weld County Commissioners will have the third reading of the county’s functional classification map, including the re-classification of Weld 29, at the commissioners’ 9 a.m. May 3 meeting. There also will be a publicly noticed work session on the changes at a time and date yet to be determined. Finally, there is a planned Weld 29 meeting at 6 p.m. April 27 at Severance Town Hall, 3 Timber Ridge Parkway, Severance.
Weld County commissioners on Monday jousted over who was listening to the public regarding a plan to reclassify Weld County Road 29, adding a pinch of flavor to what would typically be a bland second reading of a bureaucratic recommendation.
The conflict centers on a Weld County staff recommendation to reclassify Weld 29 from Nunn to Greeley as an arterial road, two steps above its current local road designation.
The north-south, 17-mile stretch features dirt and gravel but was identified as a possible arterial mainly because of its long, uninterrupted run.
Reclassification doesn't actually do anything to the road, but it does increase the county's right-of-way should any improvements be deemed necessary in the future. For example, a local road has 60 feet of right-of-way, while an arterial road has 140 feet. For Weld County Commissioner Barbara Kirkmeyer, classifying the road as arterial means less of a headache for future staff members or commissioners if and when the road is improved. Without right-of-way extensions, county staff would have to acquire it, piece-by-piece, from landowners all along the 17-mile stretch of Weld 29.
"Changing the classification does not change traffic patterns or volumes, it doesn't change the character of the driver or how they're driving," Kirkmeyer said. "It allows us to improve the safety in the future."
Several residents who live along Weld 29 spoke against the reclassification, saying the road should remain local or be classified as a collector at most. They cited Weld 31 and other north-south roads near Weld 29, among other concerns.
In response, Commissioner Sean Conway attempted to have the road classified as a collector — a happy medium between local and arterial road classifications. Conway's motion didn't get a single vote, but it likely pleased residents whom he referenced in several comments.
Conway talked about the changes being sprung on the public and said it would be good to take the time — two years — to involve the public.
"It would be nice if Commissioner Conway would stop implying we're not listening to the public," Kirkmeyer said, adding commissioners already made the Weld 29 stretch south of Colo. 392 a collector based on public input. "Our job is not just to listen to the public in this one session. Our job is (to ensure) a county-wide transportation system."
The county's capital infrastructure plan calls for $35 million for paving Weld 29 north of Colo. 14, and the potential for another $26 million in improvements to Weld 29 between Colo. 14 and Colo. 392.
— Tyler Silvy covers city and county government for The Greeley Tribune. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Connect with him at Facebook.com/TylerSilvy or @TylerSilvy on Twitter.