Dialing up Northwest Colorado’s transportation future | CraigDailyPress.com

Dialing up Northwest Colorado’s transportation future

Tom Ross

— Don't hang up if you get a phone call from a stranger right after the dinner hour May 13. It's just your friendly Colorado Department of Transportation calling to invite you to take part in a telephonic town hall meeting. It’s part of the ongoing effort to develop a new statewide transportation plan.

Former Steamboat Springs City Council member Kathy Connell, who represents Northwest Colorado on the state highway commission, said the mass conference calls have proven wildly successful.

"It's been an amazing way to reach people," she said. "For example, nobody came to the recent meetings on Colorado Highway 36 (privatization of the Boulder Turnpike) but we had 3,000 to 5,000 listening. I was on a town hall about the second twin tunnel (on I-70 near Idaho Springs) and we had 4,000 people listening."

Routt County Commissioner Steve Ivancie is expected to join Connell on the Telephone Town Hall (TTH) meeting, which will take place from 7 to 8 p.m. Ivancie sits on the board of CDOT's Northwest Transportation Region 12 comprising Moffat, Rio Blanco, Jackson and Grand counties as well as Routt. It's one of 15 across the state.

Ivancie said this week that TTH will be automatically calling a significant number of people in Region 12 on May 13 to invite their participation. He likened the TTH to a radio talk show that's focused on transportation.

CDOT officials said they came up with the idea of hosting the mass telephone calls to reach people who don't have the time or inclination to attend a public hearing on the statewide transportation outside the home.

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Connell said moderators will record the questions of callers that route them to the public representatives and CDOT officials.

Ivancie added that Routt County callers might ask about the future of the uncompleted Colorado Highway 131 widening project through Oak Creek Canyon.

Connell said her challenge on the highway commission involves persuading representatives of more densely populated areas where highways have greater traffic counts that volume isn't the only measure of a highway's importance.

"I'm fighting that battle constantly," Connell said. "Forty-three percent of sales tax coming into the state comes from tourism. The point is we are not like a lot of other states where people just happen to drive through. People come here to recreate and spend money. Our rural roads, just because we don't have volume doesn't mean they aren't primary roads."

To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205, email tross@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ThomasSRoss1

Listening in

If you don’t receive a call from CDOT inviting you to take part in the 7 to 8 p.m. May 13 Telephone Town Hall Meeting, but wish to take part, call 1-877-229-8493 and use the PIN number 112034.

You will have a chance to pose a question in advance and a monitor will display it for Department of Transportation officials and public representatives. If your question isn’t answered because of call volume, you’ll be given an email address to send it in.

More information can be found at http://www.coloradotransportationmatters.com.