Complicated situation could keep Garfield County road closed for some time
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado ” A Garfield County loop road west of Battlement Mesa has been closed for eight months due to a series of problems involving a gas pipeline project and a property rights dispute mixed up with a family quarrel and charges of trespassing, among other things.
County officials say they are working to straighten out the mess, and plan to get the road back to its historic condition and open to traffic again. But they have no idea how long that will take.
County Road 306, which loops southward from CR 300, runs up along the Wallace Creek drainage, over a dividing ridge and returns down the Spring Creek drainage. The ends of the loop connect with CR 300 at two points about a half mile apart.
The Noble Energy company in 2008 got permission to lay a pipeline under the roadway at the farthest point of the loop from CR 300 , where the road goes from one drainage to the other. But a subcontractor working on the project damaged the road so badly that it had to be closed.
Linda Dixon, whose family’s ranch abuts CR 306 at the closure point, appeared before the Garfield County commissioners on May 11 to complain about the matter. Among other things, she reported that neighboring ranch families have been going around the barricades to drive further up the road, damaging her family’s property.
At the same time, there was some disagreement about the legal right of way for CR 306, which was deeded to Garfield County by area rancher Norm Dutton, according to that rancher’s daughter, Dorothy, whose married surname is Nauroth. Linda Dixon is another of Norm Dutton’s daughters.
County Manager Ed Green said the county was working with the Dixon/Dutton family to be sure the repairs were done correctly, when the family began to question whether the road was correctly aligned.
“A couple of decades ago, they basically rerouted the entire road, and apparently it was never recorded,” Green said of the dispute over the right of way.
Green said the county engineering department should have the preliminary road design work done within the next week or two, and that design will be reviewed by the Dutton family attorney. The design, if approved, will then go back to the county for final engineering and design and the county attorney to ensure that everything is where it should be and that the paperwork establishing the right of way is filed.
“It all depends on the legal aspects” of the situation, Green said, explaining that he was not sure how long the attorneys will take on the review. County attorney Don DeFord also declined to give any estimate for resolution of the matter.
As for an apparent dispute between two sides of the Dutton family, Green said, “We are not going to get involved in that issue.”
Dorothy Nauroth, who said her family has irrigation facilities that can only be reached along the closed portion of CR 306, claims that a confrontation with a sibling in the Dutton family recently turned violent.
According to Nauroth, her husband, John, was returning from work on their irrigation system, reportedly on May 10, and was driving a backhoe that had lost its brakes due to a ruptured line. He was attempting to drive the machine around the road-closure barricades, when a Dutton truck came out to the road and forced a vehicular standoff, according to both Dorothy and John Nauroth.
“My brother ran us down, so we called the sheriff,” Dorothy said hotly in a telephone interview. A Garfield County Sheriff’s Office employee said a call did come in to the dispatch center from that area on May 10, although there is no record of a deputy responding or a report on the matter.
Nauroth also maintained she has been told by County Commissioner John Martin that she is within her rights to demand access to her irrigation system. She said that there is a total of five ranching families that currently do not have access to their irrigation systems.
“The Dutton family is coming down on everybody else about trying to get to their ditches,” Nauroth declared, adding, “We’re not going to be threatened just because we want to go through there.”
She said the closure also has prompted concerns about the ability of emergency service vehicles ” law enforcement, fire and ambulance ” to get to some of the families along the road.
Martin could not be reached for comment for this story.
Contact John Colson: 970-429-9143
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