CDOT closing Riverland’s south entrance this fall

Landowners working to create new, safe entrance point

A large wooden sign stands along Highway 135 marking the south entrance to the Riverland Industrial Park, but this fall the existing south entrance will be closed permanently due to traffic safety concerns identified by the Colorado Department of Transportation. Plans are now in the works to create a new entrance about 800 feet farther south, but whether Riverland property owners and business customers will be able to use the new entrance is yet to be determined.

 

 

According to CDOT, the Riverland subdivision does not have an official permit to legally use the south entrance. Local rancher John Rozman does have a permit for the south entrance, granting access between the highway and a gravel pit on his land operated by United Gravel. Rozman also has an easement through the Riverland property.
Riverland Property Owners Association manager Danny D’Aquila says the subdivision has been using the south entrance ever since the first businesses set up shop in Riverland—many of them on the southern lot filing. “Rozman never had a problem with the industrial park using the entrance. That’s how it basically became the south entrance,” D’Aquila says.
CDOT permit unit manager Dan Roussin says the state’s primary concern is a cross-highway access issue. The Lacy family has an access road to their property just a short way past the south entrance to Riverland.
Roussin says the most dangerous situation arises when a southbound vehicle attempts to make a left turn into the Lacy property, while a northbound vehicle is trying to make a left turn into the Riverland subdivision. In that situation traffic can get backed up in both directions, essentially blocking both entrances.
Roussin says the safety issue is compounded by the high level of combined traffic at the south entrance—trucks accessing the gravel pit and other vehicles entering Riverland—and the fact that many motorists do not adhere to the highway striping, which is intended to provide the Lacys with a dedicated turning lane. “CDOT’s position is we’re trying to solve the issue. We’re not trying to close anything, but it is a safety issue,” Roussin says.
Roussin sent a letter last fall to the Riverland Property Owners Association (POA) and the Rozman family asking them to solve the access issue. According to the letter, “There is no access permit [for Riverland] for the south access point,” and CDOT “does not have any evidence that a permit for the south access was ever issued or allowed.”
The letter further states that Riverland’s only legal access is the north entrance, which had traffic safety lanes installed when the subdivision was incorporated in 1982.
D’Aquilla says the POA is concerned that closing the south entrance will cause excessive traffic at the north entrance, and could negatively affect businesses on the south filing. He says trucks accessing the gravel pit will continue to use the north entrance because it is a shorter route. “Having a shared, dual entry works well,” D’Aquilla says.
But due to the cross-highway traffic issue, CDOT is still asking Rozman to move the entrance to the gravel pit. Rozman says he’s willing to work with Riverland to continue to provide a southern access point to the industrial park. “I’m open to suggestions. I have to move it anyway,” he says.
Rozman obtained a permit from CDOT in April to move the entrance 780 feet farther south, and has one year to complete the construction, although an extension is a possibility. Currently, that entrance would allow access to only the gravel pit.
Roussin says CDOT will allow Riverland to use Rozman’s new entrance, but only if the subdivision is willing to install acceleration and de-acceleration lanes to improve traffic safety.
All the affected parties visited the site on Monday, May 18 to discuss the issue. The group included two representatives from CDOT, Gunnison County public works director Marlene Crosby, D’Aquilla, Bill Lacy, John Rozman, local engineer Norm Whitehead, and several Riverland property owners.
Rozman hired Whitehead to design the new entrance, and United Gravel agreed to fund the construction.
Whitehead estimated that it would cost Riverland $400,000 to add traffic safety lanes to the new entrance, with the cost of asphalt being the most expensive portion.
Riverland property owner John Nichols and D’Aquilla agreed to contact the rest of the POA members to discuss the situation, and report to Rozman and CDOT by July 31 whether the subdivision would build the traffic safety lanes. In order to direct the new entrance back into the Riverland subdivision, the POA will also need to obtain a land use change permit from the county.
Rozman says he plans to move forward with constructing the new entrance sometime in August. Once complete, the existing south entrance will be closed and fenced off.

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