There's a new transportation commissioner in town.
Gov. Bill Owens has appointed Tom Walsh, a Craig resident and owner of Tri-State Equipment Co., to the Colorado Transportation Co-mmission.
As a member of the transportation commission, Walsh said it's his job "to make smart decision for our highway system." Walsh's appointment was made at the recommendations of Sen. Jack Taylor, R-Steamboat Springs, and Bill Haight, whose seat Walsh filled, because both men wanted a Northwest Colorado resident to be represented on the commission.
The commission oversees road tolling in Denver, sets policy and makes funding allocation decisions for the Colorado Department of Transportation's $800 million annual budget.
It seems news of his appointment has traveled by word of mouth, because Walsh said he's received calls about road concerns from people in Steamboat Springs and Kremmling.
At the moment, Walsh is working on two different issues. With the commission, he's researching wildlife bypasses, which could be installed under U.S. Highway 40. Strategic fencing would basically herd animals through the bypass. It's a project that could potentially save animal and human lives, Walsh said.
Walsh is also working on an environmental impact study for a Steamboat Springs property owner regarding how the road affects his property.
The transportation committee consists of 11 commissioners representing specific districts. Each commissioner serves a four-year term. Walsh represents Moffat, Rio Blanco, Routt, Jackson, Grand, Gilpin and Clear Creek counties.
The commission meets in Denver. Walsh, who has attended two meetings so far, said the meetings have been overwhelming, managing huge amounts of money and guiding projects from the planning stage to materials to be used through the building steps. The commission decides what roads get work based on a rating system.
"This region of the state has been well represented in the past, but I'm equally sure Tom will make a great addition to the commission," Tom Norton, CDOT executive director, said in a press release. "His knowledge of the area and the entire Western Slope will be a major asset."
Rob Gebhart can be reached at 824-7031 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.