Officials with the City of Greeley and the Colorado Department of Transportation said there was no firm proposal, but they agreed that the city’s acquisition of some of the streets now designated as “commercial routes” for US 34 and US 85 would be a meaningful move.
“We call it a jurisdictional transfer of title,” said Paul Trombino, director of public works at Greeley. “This state has another name. They call it ‘decentralization.'”
No such action was on Greeley’s radar on Route 85 on Eighth Avenue or Route 34 on West Ninth and 10th Streets, Trombino said. However, he has pointed out in the past, “It’s in the state’s and the city’s interest that we have more control over these streets.
“For any project or work, the licensing agency is the CDOT, so there’s a reason for that” the city takes over, he said. “It’s really a city street that matters more than anything else, so we have a reason to have more say in its shape and appearance. I think it’s more efficient for us and the city.”
It’s not uncommon for new highways to be built around towns or cities, but older routes keep the “commercial route” name. And, adds Jared Fiel, CDOT’s regional communications manager, it’s not uncommon for towns to take over these routes and make their numbered highway names disappear.
He said such an incident occurred in Estes Park when the US 34 detour made the numbering designation along West Elkhorn Boulevard unnecessary.
“That section in the middle of Estes Park doesn’t run like the state road anymore,” Phil said. “That road changed use. Generally, it’s a request from the municipality, and Estes Park wants to do traffic differently. Sometimes a road is clearly more of a city road.”
This devolution has already occurred in Greeley in the case of East Eighth Street toward City Airport, which was once designated Colo. 263. In 2007, part of the road was turned back to the city.
“When we do that, we usually have to pay them something to take over it because they take care of things like farming and resurfacing,” Phil said. “It’s an asset you have to keep up with.”
Trombino agreed. “Streets have a function, but they are really an eternal responsibility, so it’s very important for us to treat them well. We keep prolonging their lives,” he said. “The value is in the land next to it. It’s important that the street doesn’t act as a disincentive to the value of the land — the buildings, the buildings, the land next to it. We want to make sure the street drives the value and growth of that asset.”
If so, Trombino said, the city has an agreement with CDOT to maintain these commercial routes, “one for traffic lights and one for general maintenance,” with the state subsidizing Greeley’s work.
“It’s not a lot of dollars,” he said. “But the contract is redone every four years and lists all the problems.
“Not only do we do maintenance on Business 85 and 34, but we do maintenance on US 85 and 34,” he said. “We handle a lot of operational issues for them.”
Greeley wanted “a great partnership with CDOT, and I think we did,” Trombino said, referring to the ambitious Regional Growth and Equitable Mobility Enhancement, or MERGE project. The $117.5 million proposal would change the surface intersection of U.S. Route 34 at 35th and 47th avenues to a graded interchange and create a new transportation hub in the CenterPlace area to include rapid transit regional and local connections. The “fairness” is involved in part because the project will ease the separation between the north and south parts of Greeley by increasing safety movements for pedestrians and other forms of mobility.
Trombino’s department is seeking $70.5 million in grants from the U.S. Department of Transportation, including $31.5 million from New York City, $8 million from CDOT and $7.5 million from the North Front Range Metropolitan Planning Organization.
In March, when Trombino said at a city council work meeting that his department was considering eliminating the one-way traffic layout between 10th and 23rd at West 9th and 10th Streets, concerns about Greeley’s reclamation of 34th from the state came to light. Discussions with Commercial Route 85 may have resumed. way. His rough idea was to convert the more commercialized 9th Street into four-lane two-way traffic, and the more residential 10th Street into two two-way traffic.
Currently, Sections 9 and 10—now known as part of Commercial Route 34—have three lanes each, with the westbound 9th handling an average of 7,900 to 10,550 trips per day, while the eastbound 10th averages Delivers 8,400 to 10,700 trips per day.
He told council the corridor was one of Greeley’s most crash-prone places, as traffic was often well over the speed limit, and solutions could include “calming” traffic by improving transport, cycling and pedestrian infrastructure.
But because it’s a designated highway, he said at the research conference, CDOT must be involved in any layout changes.
As a result, there has been talk of taking back the increased number of summer streets.
“We’ve had conversations with CDOT about this,” Trombino said. “We’ve had some conversations about what that would look like. We meet regularly with CDOT District 4 to discuss all the issues.
“From a licensing standpoint, they’ll give us ownership,” he said. “It’s going to be everything we allow along Eighth Avenue, Ninth Avenue and Tenth Street.”
Trombino said the exchange of funds between cities and states “depends on negotiations.” “Like anything else, streets require investment. All streets are like that. It’s important for the city and for us to understand what these long-term impacts are. If we’re going to go down this path, we need a lot of entities within the city Lots of conversations between – city managers, city councils, etc.
“What the financial part is, I can’t tell you,” he said. “If there is a transfer of jurisdiction, it will be the right of way – between the end of the sidewalk and the end of the sidewalk. Anything that happens – jobs, new access points, development – now needs to be licensed and coordinated with the CDOT. If that jurisdiction transfers, then we become the authority and that right of way transfers to the city.
“We’re still trying to better understand what that framework might look like,” he said. “There is still a lot of work to be done.”
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