Reliever Route Discussed with New State Transportation Commissioner


Bill Thiebaut, District 10 State Transportation Commissioner

Bill Thiebaut, District 10 State Transportation Commissioner



The Prowers County Commissioners discussed the proposed Highway 287/385 Reliever Route with Bill Thiebaut, recently appointed to the State Transportation Commission to serve District 10 in southeast Colorado.  The meeting was also attended by Lamar Mayor Roger Stagner, City Administrator John Sutherland, Public Works Director Pat Mason and Roberto Becerril who joins the city as the Planning and Community Development Director, who replaced Bobby Ward as Chief Building Official.

Thiebaut, Roberto Becerril, John Sutherland

Thiebaut, Roberto Becerril, John Sutherland

The commission formulates general policy for the Colorado Department of Transportation with respect to the management, construction and maintenance of public highways and other transportation systems in Colorado.  Thiebaut provided a general overview of his term in the state legislature, serving both as a representative and an appointee to the state senate as well as senate majority leader from 2001-2002.  He said his term in office helped develop an interest in regional needs including prioritizing rural roads and highways including rural air service.  “Legislators need to keep in mind that the traffic flow into the metro areas comes directly through the rural portions of the state.”  He added that all roadways need to be maintained in order to keep the state economy going. 

Commissioner Joe Marble and Lamar Mayor Roger Stagner

Commissioner Joe Marble and Lamar Mayor Roger Stagner

Thiebault said he’s met with almost all the commissioners from his representative counties, listening to their transportation concerns and getting an assessment of the highways that connect his district to the rest of the state.  “Highway 96 needs work,” he said, remarking on his drive through that area, noting potholes and the need for improvement of the highway shoulders. 

Highway finances and Lamar’s and Prowers County’s commitment to the Reliever Route took up the bulk of the meeting.  RAMP funding for highway projects and devolution, a practice in which the state ‘sell’s a highway to a community in lieu of providing future maintenance costs comprised most of the discussion.  Thiebaut noted that as he’s only recently been appointed to the position, and RAMP funding will be announced within several weeks, he wants to hear from each of the ten counties regarding their concerns on their RAMP funded projects. 

Thiebaut said he wanted to visit specifically about the Reliever Route as he felt there were issues regarding $15 million in funding for the City of Lamar to take over Main Street, using some of those funds to finance the upgrades and assume ownership of the road.  Thiebaut said that from his viewpoint, the issue should be, “You’re CDOT, why don’t you just go and fix Main Street as it is!”  City Administrator, John Sutherland added, “There seems to me to be a statewide, CDOT philosophical disconnect.  I believe there should be a coherent statewide transportation plan and CDOT should have priority issues that they want to deal with.”  Sutherland added that any bottleneck that develops around Lamar for Highway 287 and 50 should be a CDOT, state-oriented problem that isn’t handed off to local officials to correct.  Sutherland added, “Our issue on this is the condition of our Main Street.  That is something that needs to be corrected and fixed by CDOT.” 

Thiebaut told the officials that his next step will be to bring the Reliever Route application up to a draft stage that can work to a local advantage regarding financing.  He added that this isn’t something that can be put on a back burner as only a few weeks remain before funding is allocated and there is a chance that it may go elsewhere. 

By Russ Baldwin

Filed Under: BusinessCommissionerscommunityCountyEconomyFeaturedLamarProwers CountyPublic SafetyTourismTransportation


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