Freeman: We invite community participation in planning county road projects
July 16, 2017
Weld County is growing — we see it in our thriving economy, our expanding communities and our increasing traffic.
Growth is exciting and challenging; it brings to light a fact many don't immediately contemplate when thinking about county government. While one role of county government is to address the needs of now, the more crucial role of county government is to prepare and plan for the needs of tomorrow — not just for next month or next year but for the next five, 10, 50 years.
Many residents have noticed increased attention being paid to the numerous infrastructure projects throughout the area. The county, state and local municipalities are all working together to help plan and prepare for growth in northern Colorado. Weld County Road 54 (Freedom Parkway), Weld 47, Weld 29 — these are just a few of the county roads that communities and local governments are focusing attention on to make sure adequate plans are in place for now and the future.
Conversations regarding transportation planning occur early and often. In fact, our Public Works Department updates a five-year capital improvement plan each year and meets with the commissioners to discuss future needs and projects that require attention in order to maintain safety on our roadways and improve efficiency for our commuters.
In June 2016, the county, along with the towns of Ault, Eaton, Nunn, Severance and Pierce, began working together to discuss Weld 29 — a county road that is not as quiet as it once was and whose future is that not unlike other roads within the county. Sections of this rural road, part of it paved, part of it unpaved, see as many as 616 vehicle trips a day and as much as 26 percent truck traffic. For some sections of this road, vehicle trips per day have increased 190 percent and 228 percent over the past five years. From 2014-16, 17 vehicle crashes were reported along this road, one of which was fatal.
The growth and the traffic are here, and they will continue to increase. So the decision was made to start the conversation and the planning with communities along the roadway and begin the process of charting a path for the future.
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As with any of the county's infrastructure projects, once conversation and research have helped staff and commissioners alike decide which roads need to rise to the top of the planning list, the Public Works Department alerts residents along the particular road to the need to start the planning process — which often begins with what is called an Access Control Plan (ACP), and, in the case of Weld 29, a reclassification of part of the roadway. Further explanation and examples of ACPs can be accessed on the Public Works web pages at http://www.weldgov.com.
This is how the planning starts, and this is where public involvement is crucial — be it for 29, 47, 54 or any county road project. Infrastructure projects don't happen in a vacuum. Public participation is needed and encouraged for any project to truly be successful. For Weld 29 in particular, which runs through the district I represent, there were multiple informational postcards emailed to residents, four public hearings and several notifications published in the local paper announcing opportunities for public input.
So, as a Weld County commissioner and the coordinator for the Public Works Department, I invite the public to review Board of Commissioner meeting agendas, to sign up for our newsletters, to visit our website for information and, most importantly, to participate in the process.
Change is inevitable, and this county is growing at an impressive pace. We, as residents and as leaders, have two choices: We can look the other way and hope for the best; or we can plan and prepare in a way that will set our communities and our county up for the best possible outcome to handle that over which we have limited control.
— Mike Freeman is a Weld County commissioner representing District 1.