Our view: A frank discussion between us

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— Remember in grade school, when our mothers and fathers tried to teach us that we can't depend on the teacher to solve our problems.

Sometimes, that self-dependency is hard to stomach, even for a community such as this one, one that seems to be filled with people who want to be left alone.

Maybe in the big scheme of things, we're not as self-dependent as we thought.

For example, the roads around here are in bad shape and getting worse, but we seem to be unable to consider any option other than howling in the state's ear. It's clear we can't count on the state to hear our voices and do anything meaningful.

Maybe people are right to distrust the state with their tax dollars.

A case can be made that we pay for our roads already. If the Legislature would only let our transportation fund pay for transportation, our roads might be as safe and clean as we've ever dreamed.

But, a case also can be made that the Taxpayer's Bill of Rights has kept taxes so unnaturally low, the state needs some of those transportation dollars to pay for other significant causes, such as education and health care.

Either way, state funding is messed up.

Knowing that, it's time for Moffat County to swallow the pill, punch the bully in the mouth and start seriously thinking about paying for some of our problems ourselves.

There are more than just roads, and really, we've already done this for our schools and hospital.

If we are who we say we are, if we are small town, do-it-yourself rural America and proud to be here, the first place we should be looking for answers is ourselves, not the circus in Denver.

Obviously, we cannot fix the roads - at about $2 million per mile - with the funds we now have.

We could not do all that's needed with any amount of funds we will ever have by ourselves.

But maybe if we stepped up the plate with something to offer - if we didn't act like a petulant child always with our hand out and our mouth screaming - the state would take us as serious adults it can work with.

Maybe we can help pay a little, and maybe we can look outside the box.

Maybe we should just utter that hated phrase: toll roads.

Yes, it's not an attractive solution. And, yes, we shouldn't allow our government to simply wait us out until we start paying tolls on roads we already pay for with taxes.

But, we can do this on our own instead of throwing our hands up in the air, giving up and putting our lives at risk by driving on narrow highways with no shoulders that are covered in ice and snake around steep canyons.

You might be thinking you will never agree to paying a toll every time you want to drive to Grand Junction.

Maybe we could pay for a tolled high-occupancy vehicle lane. That would encourage fewer cars on the road and provide options for people who want to drive with the trucks and people who don't.

Or maybe we can put some of the burden on industries that are burdening the roads to begin with. Maybe we should toll the semitruck traffic that comes through the county.

If we can't get the region to agree to toll roads, that might be the only solution left.

Of course, energy companies aren't going to like that - they're already lobbying the state to lower severance taxes, currently the only relief the state provides the Western Slope.

We don't want to make business so difficult that we chase it away, but at the least, we can negotiate.

The point is, we should work to solve these problems, and if it takes us, by our lonesome, to get things done, then so be it.

The Western Slope - and even the Eastern Plains and especially rural towns - will never get the attention the Front Range enjoys. In some ways, notably population and density, that makes sense.

But hurt feelings will only take us so far, and by that, we mean absolutely nowhere.

Until the people of this state are willing to pay for the things they want, the people will never get them.

That goes for us, too.

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