Garfield County takes quick action to fix three roads

John Colson
Post Independent staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Photo Courtesy Wyatt KeesburyRed Canyon Road was among county roads damaged by recent heavy rains and subsequent debris flows.

Several Garfield County roads were so badly damaged during recent torrential rains and floods, the county is having to sidestep its own rules to get them fixed quickly.

County Roads 320 (the Rifle-Rulison Road), 115 (Red Canyon Road) and 100 (Catherine Store Road) in Missouri Heights were closed in late July as a result of mudslides and rockfalls along certain stretches.

Public Works Director Betsy Suerth got permission on Monday from the Garfield Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) to spent an estimated $2 million to fix the roads, and to do so in an “expedited manner” to get the roads open to the public as quickly as possible.

“I believe that the damages have caused unsafe conditions and pose a threat to the safety of the public,” Suerth told the BOCC.

County attorney Andrew Gorgey assured the BOCC that state law does allow for such shortcuts in the case of emergencies.

That means the county’s normal procurement system, in particular the advertisement for requests for proposals from interested contractors, will be skipped.

In fact, one contract, for $459,548 to fix the Rifle-Rulison Road, was awarded on Monday to the Con-Sy Inc. company of Rifle.

Con-Sy was the low bidder in a list of three firms, which included Frontier Paving and Aspen Earth Moving.

Commissioner Mike Samson, agreeing with the other two commissioners that “we definitely have to do something,” balked at spending $2 million so quickly.

“Is there another approach to this?” he asked.

Although the contract for one road already has been awarded, Garfield County procurement officer Jim Hackett said it will be another 10 days before the same could be done for the other two roads.

In the meantime, Commissioner John Martin suggested that the need to fix Red Canyon Road, in particular, should be examined.

“That has been deemed an argument since the creation of 115 Road itself,” he remarked. “Does it really need to be open, because it’s such a dangerous road.”

Garfield County officials have debated the subject for years, bickering about the narrow road enclosed by steep canyon walls that, on one side, form a sheer drop to the floor far below. In winter, the steep canyon walls allows in little sun to melt accumulated snow and ice, making the road even more treacherous.

County Manager Ed Green said the county could look at rebuilding Red Canyon Road to make it safer, a project he predicted could cost as much a $28 million.

No decisions were made other than a unanimous vote to award the Rifle-Rulison Road project to Con-Sy, for $459,548. With other costs not included in the contract, the project is to cost up to $650,000.

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