An effort by the Moffat County Board of Commissioners to save taxpayers nearly $200,000 dollars to replace a bridge is creating controversy among landowners.
The commissioners worked at their meeting Tuesday to develop a plan to prevent the installation of a new bridge over Fortification Creek on a road known as Mess Kit road off of Colorado Highway 13.
A bridge on what has been considered a Moffat County road has deteriorated into a condition that requires replacement. The cost of replacing the bridge is estimated by Moffat County Road and Bridge Director Dennis Jones to be $236,000 price commissioners believe is too high for offering convenient access to one landowner’s property. The property is owned by members of the Miller family, most of whom live in the front range and rarely access the land, according to the commissioners. The commissioners have not ruled out replacing the bridge, but have tried to come up with a plan to offer access by having the county claim rights to another road that enters the property from the backside. The cost to the county to upgrade the road to county standards is estimated to be $60,000.
A few members of the Miller family expressed their discontent with the plan through letters written to the county.
“We object to anything other than the maintenance of the road with the bridge as was found by the court in 1970,” states one of the letters from a Miller family member.
Other property owners in the area don’t mind the county going with the option of developing a new county road to access the area. Most of the land owners already use the private road and wouldn’t object to having the county maintain it.
“This would just make a lot more sense,” Bill Wisdom, area landowner, said. “You have a good road and it would serve a lot of people.”
The road accessing the Miller bridge is currently closed to public traffic. Some of the people in the area do move farm equipment across the bridge, but according to Wisdom, the bridge may not last through the spring when high water levels may render the bridge impassible.
The commissioners decided to hold another meeting to discuss the road issue because of the Miller family objected there wasn’t enough notice before Tuesday’s meeting. The commissioners will meet April 30 at the sight of the bridge, and they have invited all of the landowners in the area to the meeting. The hope is a reasonable solution will be agreed on.
“We are stuck with a problem we inherited,” Jones said. “We need to do something for the land owners who use the bridge for access.”
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