Monday, November 10, 2003
It is unlikely that any of Routt County's gravel roads will be paved next year, county commissioners said Monday.
With a tight budget for 2004, commissioners said they don't expect funds to be available for such upgrades, including the potentially controversial paving of a 3.5-mile section of Buffalo Pass Road.
"It probably is not going to happen," Routt County Commissioner Nancy Stahoviak said, referring to paving the section of Buffalo Pass in 2004. "In all likelihood, there will not be any new roads hard-surfaced."
The improvements are not likely to happen for two reasons, commissioners said.
First is the county's budget. With revenues coming in low and new costs from the court-ordered justice center, the county is focusing on maintaining its current service level. There aren't enough funds for new improvement projects.
"This year, the revenues are flat, not there. In fact, we're scrambling to make ends meet," Routt County Commissioner Doug Monger said. "This is a no-frills budget and we're trying to make it through."
The second reason, Stahoviak said, is that the county wants to have a policy and process for determining which roads should move from gravel to paved.
The Routt County Road and Bridge Department is working on developing such a policy. The policy will be designed to mirror a similar one used in Kentucky and would take into consideration issues such as a road's current condition, the average daily traffic it gets, how much it would cost before the hard surface can be put in, whether the change would improve safety and how the benefits of the change would outweigh the costs, Stahoviak said.
The process also would include a public comment session, though public comments would not be the center of the commissioners' final decision, she said.
"Public comment and public pressure should not be the determining factor in whether we hard-surface a road or we don't," Stahoviak said.
When a portion of County Road 18 was hard-surfaced last year, some residents complained, she said. They worried the road improvements would result in more and faster traffic.
"We thought we had some valid reasons for doing that, but we didn't have a policy," Stahoviak said. "The neighborhood was very split on whether they wanted a hard surface on that road."
Routt County Finance Director Dan Strnad said that the county is down about $636,000 in revenues from ongoing sources.
New costs from the justice center could reach almost $700,000 a year, Strnad said.
The Routt County Road and Bridge Department has proposed about $2.1 million in infrastructure costs for 2004, including a $472,000 overlay on part of Routt County Road 129 and $335,000 in repairs to bridges, Strnad said.
County commissioners are continuing budget discussions today and will have a public hearing about the county's budget from 6 to 8 p.m. Nov. 25.
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