Road plan is tied to growth

Understanding master proposal for Elbert County

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Over the course of the past few years, Elbert County has seen steady commercial and residential growth. For the Town of Elizabeth and the western part of the county, that growth will continue for the foreseeable future, bringing in new businesses and many more residents.
 
Elbert County is currently in a transition from a rural, agricultural community to increasingly becoming a Denver metro suburb. One of the biggest concerns about this transition and the incoming development is the increasing traffic and wear and tear on the roads.
 
“I’ve lived here for 20 years and I worry about traffic. It’s already gotten overwhelming on Highway 86 around the Walmart,” said Barbara Tuffs, a resident of the Elizabeth area, in a phone interview from Dec. 26. “As much as I don’t like seeing the change, I can’t stop it. Elbert County needs to step up and fix the traffic.”
 
In 2021, a transportation master plan was prepared for Elbert County by Kimley-Horn, a planning and design consulting firm. The Elbert County Commissioners, Elbert County Planning Commission, Elbert County Transportation Advisory Committee and Elbert County Core Management Team worked to develop the plan. The plan was developed with the input of more than 450 Elbert County residents.
 
The Elbert County Transportation Master plan is not a regulatory document. According to the plan, the document is meant to establish a transportation vision for the county. The plan takes into consideration projected future commercial and residential development.
 
According to the document, 104 potential roadway improvement projects were identified from past planning efforts, from the first round of public engagement, from county staff and from deficiencies identified by the existing and future conditions analysis. These projects include paving of gravel roadways, new roadway corridors, reconstructing roadways and bridge improvements among others. These projects were run through a rigorous prioritization process, and planning-level cost estimates were developed and compared to available funding.
 
Most of the funding for the potential projects will come from various federal, state and local sources. These include the Elbert County Sales and Use Tax Fund, the County Impact Fund and the Highway Users Tax Fund. Additional supplemental funding is also being sought by the county to cover remaining costs.
The county has determined project priority based on a data-driven analysis of seven key categories:
 
1. Urbanizing/Rural
2. Safety
3. Operational Efficiency
4. Preservation & Resilience
5. System Development
6. Economic & Multimodal
7. Local Preference
 
Based on these categories and the county’s scoring schematic, projects addressing future anticipated congestion issues, particularly in the northwestern area of Elbert County, scored better than elsewhere in the county. Additionally, projects addressing deficiencies, such as ongoing maintenance issues, poor pavement or bridge conditions, or flooding issues score better than others. From their study, a total of over $200 million in potential roadway improvements were identified.
 
There are several roadway projects that have already been committed by Elbert County in the current Capital Improvement Program, other jurisdictions and private developers that impact the county’s transportation system.
 
One committed roadway improvement is the extension of Delbert Road in the northwestern portion of the county. The new roadway connection will extend Delbert Road past Singing Hills Road toward the Independence subdivision.
 
This extension has proven to be contentious among local residents. In an April 29, 2021 meeting with representatives from the Independence development, several locals shared their frustrations with the planned expansion. One anonymous resident said “don’t you even dream of coming after my land.”
 
Other locals, particularly those residing in Independence, are excited for the extension of Delbert Road. “I can’t wait for the new road,” said Independence resident Shelly Mendez. “It will save us a lot of time getting to Parker and Aurora.”
 
To view the Elbert County Transportation Master Plan, visit elbertcounty-co.gov/DocumentCenter/View/1338/Elbert-County-Transportation-Master-Plan-PDF. Here you can find a full list of potential future projects as well as related graphs, maps and projected financial impact.
 
To view the Elbert County Capital Improvement Program Transportation Projects for Fiscal Years 2021-2025, visit elbertcounty-co.gov/DocumentCenter/View/245/2020-to-2026-Capital-Improvement-Plan-PDF.
 
Elbert County, Elizabeth, Colorado, transportation, growth

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