Reliever Route Environment Assessment Held in Lamar

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Colorado Department of Transportation officials hosted an Environmental Assessment public hearing Thursday, September 19, regarding the proposed Reliever Route.  Plans call for the bypass to skirt downtown Lamar at two points, north and south of the city on Highways 287/385 and eastward on Highway 50.  

The public hearing was facilitated by Karen Rowe, CDOT Program Engineer for Region 2, and responsibility for highway development for nine counties in this area.  There was such a flow of interested citizens at the County Annex meeting room, the agenda was amended to allow for two public comment periods.  Rowe said funds for the route are limited, ”There currently no funds for the project, as we have access to gas taxes only and there are no provisions in the state’s general fund that we can use.”  Rowe acknowledged she wasn’t sure at which point the project would start, but said CDOT will continue to update long range plans. 

Rowe, and CDOT resident engineer, Paul Westhoff, explained that citizens can continue to express their views through October 3, during the public comment period, and CDOT will develop responses to those comments through December 2.  The process allows funding for the hiring of a consultant to develop an initial design of the project and that will commence following the publishing of a FONSI document, regarding the assessment.  FONSI stands for Finding of No Significant Impact. 

Westhoff said despite lack of immediate construction funding, the Reliever Route is still needed as use of Highway 287/385 continues to grow, beyond the current CDOT projects for this point.  “Development of Ports to Plains construction in other states has helped increase traffic along that highway system, but it also means increased numbers through downtown Lamar,” he said.  Westoff added that the EPA study covered such areas as water quality, impact to local species, wetlands, farm use, retail, visual aspects of the Route, noise abatement and other criteria through 2035.  The estimated traffic flow of the Route would carry 84% of the trucks away from Main Street and 30% cars.  The City of Lamar would see less traffic noise and deal with less pollution through dust.   

Persons hoping the Reliever Route project could be funded through one-time allocation of RAMP funds saw those hopes diminish with the news that the bypass was not included on the list of RAMP projects, recently released by CDOT.  Instead of an accelerated funding schedule, the Reliever Route is mostly back to square one as far as financing the constructing the new route around Lamar is concerned. 

Anyone wishing to submit an online statement on the proposed Reliever Route until October 3 can use the project website at  A Decision Document will be published with a response to all comments submitted to CDOT.

BY Russ Baldwin


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