CARBONDALE, Colorado - An access control plan, meant to reduce the number of driveways and improve safety along State Highway 133 through town, was given final approval by the board of trustees on Tuesday.
Formally known as the State Highway 133 Access Control Plan, the plan has been in the works by the town government and the Colorado Department of Transportation since mid-2010.
At its most simple, the plan outlines changes to 94 access points into private properties along the highway, in some cases cutting down the kinds of turns that can be made into and out of the business properties involved.
Due to funding constraints, the changes are limited initially from the Roaring Fork River bridge to Main Street. Later changes will affect Highway 133 from Main Street south to Roaring Fork High School.
The trustees say it is in the community's interest to adopt the access control plan now, before growth causes traffic to get any worse on the highway.
According to state estimates, Main Street now carries more than 14,000 vehicle trips per day, a volume that is projected to reach more than 22,000 trips per day in 20 years.
But the plan has dismayed some business owners along the highway worried about getting customers into their stores.
"We're going to be dealing with this access plan for a long time," businessman Frank Taverna told the trustees. "Carbondale is a small-business, sales-tax driven town. Shoppers are going to go to those businesses that it's most convenient to go to."
But the trustees, while acknowledging Taverna's concerns, argued the opposite.
"There's nothing here that screams out, 'We're really screwing something up,' or being anti-business," said Mayor Stacey Bernot.
Instead, she said, the plan is "helping us to be in control of our own destiny" by identifying ways to improve safety on the highway even as traffic congestion increases.
CDOT Permit Unit Manager Dan Roussin said if the town and CDOT conclude the plan needs more work, or to be altered in some way, that can be done.
The Access Control Plan will now be reviewed by CDOT and incorporated into the agency's own planning efforts for improvements to Highway 133, said Roussin.
2013 budget approved
In other action, the trustees approved the town's 2013 budget, which calls for general fund revenues of $5.37 million and general fund expenditures of $6.9 million.
The general fund covers most of the town's day-to-day operations and expenses.
The balance of approximately $1.5 million is to be made up by using up some of the town's $5.7 million in reserves, according to budget documents made available by town officials.