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The Colorado Department of Transportation and its contractor, Elam Construction, completed a nice improvement to three miles of State Highway 13 south of Meeker last fall. Unfortunately, due to expensive roadside barriers and retaining walls, the cost of the project exceeded $3 million a mile. That a simple two-lane rural highway in a lightly populated area could cost that much is mind boggling. Here are ways the costs could have been reduced:1. High barriers were built along the shoulders to avoid cutting into the hillside. Modest cuts could have eliminated the need for barriers, or the alignment could have been slid a few feet to the west requiring more encroachment into a dry wash where retaining walls were already necessary. In fact, most or all of these retaining walls might have been eliminated by modest channel changes. Apparently, these features were incorporated because of fear over the authority of the state Department of Health over stormwater runoff, which in this case would run into a dry wash, not a pristine fishing steam. Authority given the health department is a good example of over-regulation by the federal government.2. A lot of money was spent designing and building a “tie-back” wall where bedrock was exposed. In the “old days” we would have cut the slope back at a one-half-to-one ratio and perhaps widened the ditch a little.3. Because of the expense for building these concrete structures, the length of new pavement laid down had to be shortened, resulting in a 40,000 cubic yard of excess dirt being piled at the south end of the project, dirt that will have to be picked on the next project at a cost of $100,000 or more. Wasted money.When I worked for CDOT, we were required to seek economical solutions to design problems. That philosophy has apparently been been discarded in this age of very scarce highway modernization funds. Now, those of us who travel this roadway, are exposed to roadside obstructions, a safety problem brought on by the Colorado Department of Health.Dick ProsenceMeeker

Bob Anderson’s letter of March 24 presented accurate facts that support conclusions that are unwarranted in light of other facts that he omits. He told us that the richest 10 percent of Americans pay 70 percent of federal income taxes and the richest 50 percent pay 97 percent. He omitted that the richest 10 percent own 83 percent of national wealth and 93 percent of all investment assets and that the richest half own about 97 percent of national wealth. (Source: Moreover, this wealth is unevenly distributed within the group. The richest 20 percent own 85 percent of all wealth, the next 20 percent own about 10 percent and the poorest 10 percent (of the richer half) own a mere 3 percent. (Source: percent20ariely.pdf)Mr. Anderson told us that the poorer 50 percent of Americans pay only 2.7 percent of income taxes, but omitted that like the richer half, this percentage is roughly equivalent to their share of national wealth. And again, the distribution within this poorer 50 percent is unequal. The poorest 20 percent of Americans own a paltry .003 percent percent of national wealth and the upper 30 percent (of the poorer half) own only 2.5 percent.So it seems that the share of taxes Americans pay is roughly equivalent to their share of national wealth. Sounds fair, but is it? Should the nearly 400 people worth billions or even our nearly 3 million millionaires pay the same effective tax rate as ordinary folks like Mr. Anderson?Mr. Anderson may be correct that taxing the richest people at even 100 percent would not eliminate our national deficit, but he omitted discussing the degree to which taxing them at say 50 to 65 percent might reduce it. As for the rich being creators of wealth, wealth for whom? It’s a rhetorical question.Mr. Anderson quoted Margaret Thatcher as saying the problem with socialism may be eventually running out of other people’s money. I agree. We have that very problem. We are running out of ordinary people’s money to give to the rich.Thanks to Mr. Anderson for again illustrating how loudly and frequently repeated half truths can often mislead decent, well-meaning people like himself to advocate and vote against their own interests.Ron KokishCarbondale

In the depths of this real estate depression, Garfield County commissioners Tom Jankovsky, John Martin and Mike Samson intend to revise the county land use code, revised two years ago, to:1. allow developers to subdivide land that has previously been subdivided.2. change the review process for land use changes, effectively creating a fast track for zone changes.3. create a new business zone outside the boundaries of Carbondale, Glenwood Springs, Rifle, Silt, New Castle and Parachute.Incredibly, commissioners Jankovsky, Martin and Samson actually believe these changes are necessary to “spur economic development.”This proposal by the Garfield BOCC should set off bells and whistles with every mayor and council member in the six municipalities and all of their commercial property owners.With no consideration whatsoever to the downtown commercial development programs of the six municipalities and their decreasing sales tax revenues, Jankovsky, Martin and Samson intend to revise the county land use code to allow developers to buy cheap county land and then rezone on a fast track to create commercial projects outside the sales tax base of the six municipalities.These fast track commercial projects will then compete with the existing downtown commercial properties and the economic development efforts by Carbondale, Glenwood Springs, Rifle Silt, New Castle and Parachute to attract new commercial businesses to their struggling communities.Economic development consultants refer to this as “leap frogging” and warn against providing incentives for new commercial development to compete with existing and vacant downtown commercial properties. “In-filling” should be the goal, not “leap frogging” to outside the sale tax base of the six municipalities.Furthermore, allowing land to be subdivided that has previously been subdivided is a breach of trust to the existing county landowners. Garfield County landowners purchased their land on the guarantee there will be no further subdividing of adjacent property.Carl & Karen Mc WilliamsSilt Mesa

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