Rifle officials unsure what to do about city entrance
RIFLE – Between a proposed gravel pit and a state-owned park-and-ride facility – both right off the Interstate 70 ramps to Rifle – City Council members are desperately trying to protect the city’s entrance.Council members have already threatened to picket a proposed gravel pit on what is commonly referred to as the Scott property on the south side of the Colorado River near the Rifle exit ramp off I-70. The project is scheduled to appear before the Garfield County Commissioners next month.According to Mayor Pro Tem Alan Lambert, there are already three or four gravel pits between Rifle and Silt. He said that to add another one at the entrance of Rifle will seriously affect the city’s viewshed.”It’s our viewshed, and we want to avoid looking like a dump zone or industrial wasteland,” Lambert said. Along with the views, the city is also concerned about the effects on wildlife, noise, water quality and how the pit may affect the structural integrity of the bridge.”How much gravel do they need?” Lambert asked. “Are we going to sell our souls to the devil for this gravel? Why make Rifle the armpit of the county?”The gravel pit, proposed by Bill Bailey of Rifle under Colorado Rivers Edge LLC, will go before the Garfield County Planning and Zoning Commission at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 10. Rifle council members have said they may picket the site to show their opposition.”If that’s what it takes to get the publicity out,” Lambert said.Council just last week found out about another project around the city’s entrance when they learned that the Colorado Department of Transportation was in the process of constructing a park-and-ride area that will accommodate between 80 and 90 vehicles near the westbound I-70 off-ramp that joins with Highway 13.”We were shocked when we found out,” Lambert said. “City staff didn’t even know about it. We would’ve appreciated knowing about it.”Lambert said along with the view of so many parked cars, the park-and-ride lot would interfere with the city’s plans to build one of three roundabouts.”I’m not sure what we can do about it because it’s a state agency doing something on state-owned property, but we’re not liking it, and we’re studying what we can do about it,” he said. “We see the necessity but not right there.”A CDOT official seemed unaware of any city opposition to the project and said it would be in addition to the existing park-and-ride facility on the frontage road and Railroad Avenue.”The [new] park-and-ride is necessitated to alleviate congestion on I-70,” said Nancy Shanks, spokesperson for CDOT. “The existing Rifle park-and-ride site will remain, but it’s consistently full.”CDOT is also looking at putting a park-and-ride facility in Silt and has plans to repave I-70 from West Glenwood four miles west between mid-June and September, Shanks said.The Rifle park-and-ride is scheduled to open the first of July, but City Council members hope to talk with CDOT about it first.”We’re fighting for the front door of Rifle,” Lambert said. “My position is that it’s dangerous to get in and out of that area, and it’s highly visible from the interstate. Welcome to Rifle.”
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