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Airport road plans fail to fly

The city of Rifle, the Garfield County commissioners and developer Bob Howard failed to forge an agreement Monday over how to improve Airport Road.

The agreement revolves around Howard’s offer of 40 acres of land adjacent to the Garfield County Airport outside Rifle. In exchange, the county and city would improve Airport Road.

Howard holds over 300 acres next door to the airport. The land is slated for commercial development.



The county plans to apply for a $2.4 million grant from the state Department of Local Affairs energy impact fund. Rifle has agreed to kick in $200,000 for the first phase of the project from the Rifle Business Park to the intersection of West Mamm Creek Road.

The four-phase project will end at the intersection of Airport Road and East Mamm Creek Road.



County engineer Randy Withee and Rifle city engineer Bill Sappington now agree the improved road should be two lanes, but have not agreed on the width.

Both Sappington and Howard wanted the first phase to be three lanes. The county commissioners objected, saying three lanes would be too costly.

Withee said the road should be upgraded to two 12-foot wide lanes with eight-foot graveled shoulders. Sappington said the road must meet a city standard of two 12-foot wide lanes and six-foot paved shoulders.

Howard suggested that the county should submit the energy impact grant application without specific details of road design. The application is due April 3.

Commissioner Larry McCown had another suggestion.

“We can design the road to our standards. It’s a county road,” he said.

Anything above that standard the city should pay for.

Sappington disagreed.

“The developer will fund the improvements,” he said.

But Howard said the whole idea of donating land to the county was in lieu of paying for road improvements.

“You get land for the airport, and I won’t have to do anything more on my road,” he said.

But he also acknowledged he had a long way to go in convincing Rifle to buy into the deal.

The commissioners agreed to go ahead with the application and give the engineers until March 25 to come up with a plan they can agree on.


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