Elbert County has received a $190,000 grant from the Colorado Department of Local Affairs to update its existing Transportation Master Plan. Grant funds came from state Energy and Mineral Impact …
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Elbert County has received a $190,000 grant from the Colorado Department of Local Affairs to update its existing Transportation Master Plan.
Grant funds came from state Energy and Mineral Impact Assistance, and will be matched with $190,000 from the county’s 2020 budget to pay for consultants to analyze major travel corridors, areas anticipated to see future business growth and roads affected by existing industrial facilities, and to present recommendations to update the current plan, which was created in 2008.
The county hopes to have a new master plan approved by the end of 2020.
“The current master plan was done in 2008, with a strong focus on western Elbert County,” said Rory Hale, the county’s director of public works. “It hasn’t been updated for a while, and it’s pretty clear we need to look at all of the county and prepare for growth and development.”
The county is in the process of sending out a request for proposals to engineering consultants, with a high emphasis on traffic experience. According to Hale, once the RFP has been awarded, the county will start moving forward with creating a new plan, including holding citizen meetings to receive input.
“We’ll have some round-table and stakeholder meetings with residents and business,” said Hale. “It’s critical to get input from neighboring counties, as well as feedback from the community. Residents will have the chance to ask questions and express their concerns and ideas.”
The transportation plan will coordinate with the county’s 2018 comprehensive plan, as well as the Town of Elizabeth’s comprehensive plan that is currently being developed. Douglas County and the State of Colorado plans will also be considered and incorporated into the master plan.
According to Hale, eastern portions of the county, which were not initially addressed in the 2008 plan, will be analyzed more closely for growth and development transportation needs. The county’s newly created Economic Development Zone will also be factored in to the new plan. The EDZ is an overlay district along major highway corridors to streamline the development process.
“We have between Highway 24 and I-70. We’ve got the wind towers down in the southeastern part of the county that have created a lot of industrial type of traffic,” said Hale. “With the EDZ they’ve identified the area up around Agate along I-70, with the thought process being that we get an east-west corridor traveling from Highway 24 to 70 to potentially inspire growth in that area.”
The purpose of the master plan is twofold, according to Hale. Addressing current and ongoing transportation issues, including existing roads that need repairs and maintenance, and mapping out a plan for future growth.
“In government we try to take a proactive approach versus a reactive approach,” said Hale. “The western Elbert County master plan was reactive. We want to make sure we have some mechanisms and trigger points in place that we can address prior to an explosion of growth, so we can implement improvements on existing roadways or put in new roadways.”
The plan will be evaluated yearly once it is approved. Elbert County has nearly 2,200 lane miles of gravel roads, and approximately 320 lane miles of paved roads, not including Highways 86 and 24, which are managed by the Colorado Department of Transportation. In today’s market, according to Hale, updating a paved road can cost between $700,000 and $1 million per mile.
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