PCDI Discusses Proposed Bypass Costs and Impact


Discussion on the proposed Lamar By-pass, or Reliever Route, is intensifying on what the cost of the project will mean to the City of Lamar and Prowers County, and will the new route around Lamar aid or injure the economic climate of businesses along Main Street and what changes would the state make to Main Street if the by-pass is not built?  Representatives from the city and county plan to get some answers at Wednesday’s public meeting hosted by CDOT.  The meeting is scheduled for 9:30am Wednesday, June 26, in City Council chambers.    

The state is asking for a 20% match on the cost of the project, about $70 million, which will take traffic from around the city off Highway 287/385 to the south, and bypass Main Street bringing the new two-lane route, back onto the highway north of the city.  Neither the city nor the county has received a satisfactory answer on what that match may be, estimated at around $8 million.  Commissioner Joe Marble told the PCDI board during their monthly meeting, June 25, that the county has invested $500,000 in right of way purchases along the proposed route, but the county also has concerns about ownership and responsibility of repairs for two bridges spanning the Arkansas River.  “One of those is rated at 67 out of a possible 100 points and when it drops to 50, the bridge is closed if it’s not repaired,” Marble told the board of directors.  He’s concerned about the costs if the state does not repair them.  “The county and the city cannot afford to replace them,” he remarked, adding he believes the bridge upgrades need to be discussed in any future talks with the state.  The city and the county will have to take responsibility for the roads in-between the bypass connections, according to Marble, and the state will offer a reimbursement to each entity for future maintenance.  However, Marble said, the state expects eight million of that back as their share of matching funds. 

City councilman Skip Ruedeman said not knowing the exact amount is a big part of the problem, as CDOT wants a letter of support from the city on the project as well as the reimbursement.  He said the city is seeking input from residents on the matter with two questions relating to the bypass on its website, asking ‘yes or no’ on the bypass and the voter’s feeling on its construction if the city has to come up with matching funds.  He added that some businesses on Main Street will be hurt by the new route and some could care less.  He added that the city has already heard rumors that some residents have already purchased land along the proposed route in anticipation of selling it to new businesses or moving a Main Street business to it.   

Another point Reudeman added was, “This is the first time that any entity has had to come up with money.  Normally the state works things out with the city and county and does the construction, but here we are in a situation like a grant where we have to put in matching funds.”  Ruedeman and Marble said that question is going to be asked the state officials on Wednesday morning.  Marble added that he didn’t think the new route could be done within the remaining three years under the state’s finance plan.  “This is not well-thought out at all,” he added.   

The commissioner said the city and county needs to be cautious about how the $8 million payback is scheduled, recounting how the county received $9 million from the state to take over maintenance of Highway 196.  “The problem is that the county only receives one-two hundred fortieth of that money every month.  It wasn’t paid out in a lump sum,” he explained.  “If the city is going to use that money to improve Main Street, they’re going to have to let it accumulate for several years before they can afford to pay the cost if they use the same procedure,” he cautioned the PCDI board. 

In other matters, the PCDI board set September 7 as a new date for a fundraising golf tournament at Spreading Antlers Golf Course.  Board member Rick Robbins suggested that next year’s tournament be coupled with several business or marketing related information seminars for participants or sponsors.  As a past president of a different golf board, Robbins said seminars coupled with those past tournaments had positive results.   

Board members discussed payment options for repair work to the Big R Warehouse and offices on Washington Street.  Portions of the complex will be rented to the Colorado State Patrol in the near future.  The recent rains created a slight flooding problem which is being alleviated with rerouting some new downspouts off the gutters to take the runoff away from the building.  Available PCDI funds were approved by a vote to pay down a line of credit from a local bank to finance the repairs and insurance and maintenance bills on the property. 

Emily Nieschburg of LiveWell Healthy Communities provided a recap for the board of the recent Lamar study conducted by Urban Land Institute to create a more health-oriented living environment in the community through a series of projects using grant funds and local volunteers.  Nieschburg was seeking a partnership with PCDI to develop insight into future financing goals. 

Board President, Marsha Willhite said applications for a new PCDI executive director will remain open until July 6.  At that time, she said, a special board meeting will be held during which all the applications will be vetted at one time and the board will begin to narrow their search.

By Russ Baldwin



Filed Under: BusinessCommissionerscommunityCountyEconomyEmploymentEnvironmentFeaturedLamarPoliticsProwers CountyPublic SafetyTourismUtilities


About the Author:

RSSComments (0)

Trackback URL

Comments are closed.