Completion by end of ‘08
The Gunnison Valley Rural Transportation Authority is about to begin a transportation study that will ultimately show when and where things like bus pull-offs, parking lots, pedestrian crossings, and "park and rides" should go within the valley.
For about a year, various entities have expressed the need for a revised transportation plan. Gunnison County, the City of Gunnison, the Town of Crested Butte and Mt. Crested Butte agreed to split the cost of the $80,000 study and have allocated funds in their respective 2008 budgets.
While Gunnison County got the ball rolling to fund the transportation study, the RTA is taking the wheel the rest of the way. "It makes sense because all of the entities involved are represented at the table," RTA director Scott Truex says.
RTA board chairman Chris Morgan says the transportation study is needed because "Many of the jurisdictions and agencies involved want to make sure they have the correct information before they make infrastructure decisions that will cost a lot of money."
Truex agrees, saying, "Hopefully, it reaffirms the direction that we’re heading, and gives us some data and background on where we should focus our efforts for transportation in the valley."
The last valley-wide transportation study was done in 1998 by Boulder-based Charlier and Associates, the same firm the RTA is looking to hire for the next study. The study includes elements about traffic management, growth, and when and where to place transportation infrastructure.
Like the old transportation study, the new plan will focus on Highway 135 and the municipalities in the Upper Gunnison Basin.
To streamline the study process and make the results more effective, the RTA has narrowed the scope of the study. Morgan says some of ideas from the last transportation plan, such as the gondola between Crested Butte and Mt. Crested Butte and a bypass around Crested Butte, have been ruled out.
According to a letter sent by the RTA to Charlier, three key areas the RTA hopes to focus on are public transportation, parking, and pedestrian traffic. Specifically, the study will tackle things such as improvements to Gothic Road, additional safety signage along Highway 135, trails between Crested Butte and Crested Butte South, park and ride facilities, and the parking structure in each town.
Truex says Charlier will likely begin traffic studies during the current winter season, which means they could be finished by the end of 2008.