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Help the county do its job

Dear Editor:

I’ve learned a lot about county roads in my job as community relations coordinator for Pitkin County. Maintaining county-owned roads and bridges is a big part of “what counties do.” They build ’em, grade ’em, pave ’em, patch ’em, plow ’em and patrol ’em. I spent the summer working with “Asphalt Man” to raise awareness about the challenges Pitkin County faces to maintain asphalt, mitigate rockfall hazards and reconfigure dangerous intersections, among other things. Like everyone else, the county’s cost of doing business has increased. The cost of asphalt alone has quadrupled in recent years because of the increased cost for a barrel of oil.

I have explored the far corners of the Pitkin County road system with a TV crew documenting problem areas. I interviewed public works director Brian Pettet standing under a serious rockfall concern area just past the hospital (you all know where it is) on the way to Aspen Country Day School on Castle Creek Road. During the five-minute interview, I was afraid a boulder the size of my car would tumble down on us! I stood in the middle of the infamous Smith Hill Way intersection in upper Woody Creek and watched big gravel trucks thunder by at the same time bicyclists whizzed down the W/J hill and cars merged to climb up Smith Hill to Highway 82. It’s an accident waiting to happen.

We joked as we tried to document on TV what it takes to turn from Upper Woody Creek Road onto Woody Creek Road (the one that goes to the Community School and Lenado). The hairpin was so tight, you practically had to back up to get around it. How does the school bus do it? Way up the Fryingpan past Meredith, there’s a “sinkhole” in the road and a huge rock-slide area that needs constant attention. There are places up there that I would have felt a lot more comfortable with a little more guardrail.

A couple of summers ago Pitkin County completed a major and long overdue road improvement project on Red Mountain. I’m proud to say the project was done on time, on budget and well received. There are 14 more major road improvement and safety projects that have been identified by citizens and staff in the 20-year road and bridge master plan that are also long overdue. At current funding levels the county will only be able to complete four of them over the next 20 years!

Maintaining roads is kind of like putting oil in your car ” if you don’t keep up with it, sooner or later you’ll be replacing your entire engine. If Pitkin County cannot continue to maintain its roads at current levels, they will need replacing sooner than later ” a much more expensive proposition in the future.

I encourage you to vote YES on 1B for Pitkin County roads.

Pat Bingham

Carbondale


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