Greeley’s acquisition of US 34, 85 a logical step – Loveland Reporter-Herald

There are no specific proposals on the table yet, officials from the City of Greeley and the Colorado Department of Transportation say, but they agree that the city would adopt some streets now designated as “commercial streets” for US 34 and US 85 a move that makes sense.

“We would call it a judicial transfer of ownership,” said Paul Trombino, director of Greeley Public Works. “The state has another name for it. They call it ‘devolution’.”

So far, Greeley has no such action on the radar for Eighth Avenue as business route 85 or West Ninth and 10th Street as business route 34, Trombino said. However, he has noted in the past that “there comes a point where it’s in the interest of the state and the city that we have more control over these roads.”

“For any project or work, the permitting authority is the CDOT, so there are reasons to do that,” he said. “It’s really more of a street in the city than anything else, so there’s reason for us to say more about its shape and appearance. I think that’s more efficient for us and for the city.”

It is not uncommon for a new freeway bypass to be built around a town or city, but the older routes retain the “commercial road” designation. And, added CDOT Regional Communications Manager Jared Fiel, it’s not uncommon for cities to adopt these routes and their numbered highways to disappear.

One such event occurred in Estes Park, he said, when the US 34 bypass eliminated the need for numbered designation along West Elkhorn Avenue.

“This section in the middle of Estes Park no longer functions like a state highway,” Fiel said. “This road was somehow used differently. It’s generally a request from a municipality first, and Estes Park wanted to handle traffic in a different way. Sometimes a street has clearly become more of a city street.”

Such decentralization has already taken place in Greeley in the case of East Eighth Street to the city’s airport, once known as Colo. 263 was designated. Portions of this road were returned to the city in 2007.

“When we do that, we usually have to pay them something to do it because they’re then responsible for things like plowing and paving,” Fiel said. “It’s an asset that needs to be nurtured.”

Trombino agreed. “Roads have a function, but they’re really a constant burden, so it’s really important for us to treat them well. We’re constantly extending their lives,” he said. “The value is in the country it stands next to. It is important that roads do not detract from the value of the land – the structures, the buildings, the land it stands next to. We want to make sure the roads are a enabler for the value and growth of that asset.”

As it stands, Trombino said, the city has agreements with CDOT for the maintenance of these commercial streets, “one for traffic signals and one for general maintenance,” in which the state subsidizes Greeley’s work.

“It’s not a lot of dollars,” he said. “But the contracts are renewed every four years and fix all the problems.

“We’re not only doing maintenance on Business 85 and 34, but also on US 85 and 34,” he said. “We take care of a lot of operational problems for them.”

Greeley wants “to have a great partnership with CDOT, and I think we do,” Trombino said, citing the ambitious Mobility Enhancement for Regional Growth and Equity, or MERGE, project. The $117.5 million proposal would convert US 34’s level crossings at 35th and 47th Avenues into level crossings and create a new mobility hub in the CenterPlace area for regional and local connections including Bus Rapid Transit. The ‘justice’ part is involved because the project would reduce the separation between the northern and southern parts of the city of Greeley by adding safe pedestrian movement and other forms of mobility.

Trombino’s department is seeking a $70.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation, which will add to $31.5 million from the city, $8 million from CDOT and $7.5 million from would be added to the North Front Range Metropolitan Planning Organization.

Talk of Greeley reclaiming Business Routes 34 and 85 from the state may have been revived in March, when Trombino told a City Council working session that his department was considering opening the 9th and 10th Street one-way streets between 10th and 23rd Streets .Street abolish avenues. His broad idea was to convert that section of the more commercial Ninth Street to four oncoming lanes, while the more residential 10th Street was converted to two oncoming lanes.

Currently, these sections of the ninth and tenth — now known as part of Business Route 34 — each have three lanes, with the ninth westbound handling between 7,900 and 10,550 average daily trips and the 10th eastbound handling between 8,400 and 10,700 average daily trips .

He told City Council that the corridor is one of the most congestion-prone in Greeley, with traffic routinely well exceeding the speed limit, and one solution could be to “calm down” traffic through improvements to transit, cycling and pedestrian infrastructure.

But since it’s a designated highway, he told the study session, CDOT would need to be involved with any layout changes.

And so there is talk of recapturing the streets that have gained volume in the summer.

“We’ve had discussions with CDOT about this,” Trombino said. “We had some conversations about what that would look like. We have a regular meeting with CDOT Region 4 to discuss any issues.

“They would give us ownership from an admitting perspective,” he said. “We would allow anything along Eighth Avenue, Ninth and 10th Streets.”

Currency exchanges between the city and state “depend on negotiation,” Trombino said. “Like everything else, roads need investment. All roads do. It’s important for the city and for us to understand these long-term implications. If we were to go that route, it would require a lot of conversations between many places in the city – city manager, city council, all of those.

“I can’t tell you what the financial component would be,” he said. “If there were a transfer of jurisdiction, it would be right of way – from end of pavement to end of pavement. Everything that happens – work, new entry points, development – now requires approval and coordination with CDOT. If that jurisdiction were transferred, then we would be the authority and that right of way would pass to the city.

“We’re still trying to better understand what the framework could possibly look like,” he said. “Its a lot to do.”

This article was first published by BizWest, an independent news organization, and is published under a license agreement. © 2022 BizWest Media LLC.


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