Letter to the Editor: Lamar Reliever Route


Post Office 2

Dear Editor:

Concerning the proposed Lamar Reliever Route, some have claimed that a truck bypass would divert traffic from Main Street, and hurt downtown businesses.  This is a valid concern, and should be taken seriously.  I’m sure we can all agree that our long term economic well-being is tied to the federal highways that link us to the population centers on the Front Range, Texas, and the west and east coasts.

A recent study on the economic impact of highway bypasses on rural communities by the Wisconsin Department of Transportation concluded that the effects vary with the size of the town.  Communities with populations fewer than 1,000 tend to suffer, while those larger than 1,000 tend to benefit.  Highway bypasses tend to increase total traffic when compared to pre-bypass totals.  These effects would naturally result in more potential commerce and revenue for our county, than would be possible if we do not build the bypass.  (By removing one thousand noisy, speeding 18-wheelers a day, we would also dramatically improve the downtown shopping experience.)

There are two major reasons why this matter cannot be further delayed.  The first reason is, as CDOT’s Paul Westhoff explained, we have a brief window of funding before the opportunity vanishes.  The second reason is that the state of New Mexico has beaten us to the punch, as far as improving the Port to Plains Corridor.  Within the last several years, New Mexico completed upgrading highway 87 to four lanes throughout their state.  Given that the difference in distance between Amarillo and Denver on highways 87 and 287 is negligible, we will most likely see the north-south traffic through Lamar start to diminish over coming years.

We need to do everything we can to facilitate the development of highways 287 and 50 into interstate-quality transportation corridors. We do not want our highways to be relegated to mere emergency routes.  Only upgrading our highways to twenty-first century standards will ensure that we are able to compete for new distribution centers and manufacturing companies.

America’s High Plains are facing demographic decimation.  New census data shows most of our counties are losing population to urban centers.  This is not a death sentence.  Some communities are looking at the big picture, planning ahead, and adapting to the new economic realities.  We have a choice whether or not we will do the same.  If we continue to think small, we will only get smaller.

It would serve us well to remember the words of Mark Twain, “it ain’t what you don’t know that kills you, it’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.”


Karl Nieschburg
400 S. 2
Lamar, CO  81052


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