Buses will head into the subdivision during off-seasons
The Gunnison Valley Rural Transportation Authority (RTA) has decided to shelve the idea of a park-and-ride at the intersection of Highway 135 and Cement Creek Road. The RTA board voted unanimously to not accept $162,000 in Colorado Transit Coalition grant monies toward the project, thus putting an end, at least for the moment, to a park-and-ride at that location.
The RTA did agree to have the buses running between Mt. Crested Butte and Gunnison in the spring, summer and fall drive through Crested Butte South to pick up and drop off passengers at the subdivision. Given budget restraints, only three round trips per day will run each day starting April 5.
As for the park-and-ride, the local RTA would have had to spend money from its tightening budget to match federal capital grants. Scott Truex, RTA executive director, said that would be difficult. “Given the current situation, it will be difficult for us to meet the requirements that come with the grant monies,” he told the board at a meeting on March 26. “While I think this park-and-ride is needed in the future, at this time, I recommend we should forego the project.”
The RTA eventually would have needed to contribute more than $112,000 in matching funds. $50,000 of RTA funding was budgeted to be spent in 2011. The RTA has already spent about $20,000 on the project.
In a memo to the board, Truex outlined several potential problems that could drive up the cost of a park-and-ride at that location. Access issues, ditch issues, the fact that the property owners of the land targeted for the park-and-ride location retained attorney David Leinsdorf to fight any condemnation of the property—all came into play.
“This has been a huge issue at the north end of the valley,” said board member Jim Starr, who said Crested Butte South is “the second or third largest subdivision in the county and it is a unique situation. I think we need to reevaluate the idea. It is a wise decision to not pursue it at this time.”
Leinsdorf said two very good reasons to stop the project were the RTA budget situation and the potential to violate the county Land Use Resolution by opening up the potential for commercial development so close to the highway.
The RTA board voted to not accept the state grant money, thus closing the park-and-ride chapter for the time being.
The $50,000 budgeted toward the project was shifted to help with airline guarantees (see story page 21).
As for the bus driving into the subdivision spring, summer and fall, the board was excited to try the idea. The Crested Butte South Property Owners Association will foot the additional $11,000 it will cost to add to the route.
“We heard the parents in C.B. South would be more happy to have this service in the summer,” said Truex.
Given the restricted level of service, the buses don’t have to keep a tight schedule in the summer. Truex also pointed out that the morning and evening buses in the winter are full of workers commuting to and from Gunnison. The stop in Crested Butte South is anticipated to add about 10 minutes to the trip between both ends of the valley. This move would have been made whether or not the park-and-ride was approved and was in fact approved last fall. The bus will turn around at the P.O.A., where people can catch the bus.
“It’s a big step and I’m happy to get this going,” said Truex.
The new route will start April 5, the day after the ski area closes.