Grand County: Transportation overview | SkyHiNews.com

Grand County: Transportation overview

Grand County is located 67 miles from Denver. There are a few options for getting to the area – Home James Taxi from Denver International Airport, The Ski Train which leaves Denver’s Union Station Saturdays and Sundays from December through April arriving at the base of the Winter Park Ski Area, or fly into the county yourself using one of two general aviation airports ” in Granby and in Kremmling.

Transportation system benefits local communities

To the Editor: For any one who did not attend the town meeting on the creation of a transportation district, here are the facts. The proposed Transportation system will be paid for by use taxes and transfer taxes mostly paid by our guests and second home owners. With the transportation system controlled by the towns we can apply for state and federal funds as well to fund the transportation system. Now we can have a year round transportation system. A year round transportation system will reduce congestion on our roads and make our air less polluted. We will be safer with more busses and fewer cars on the road. Fewer hitchhikers will also make our roads safer. Kids below the driving age and those who can't afford cars will be able to easily travel year round. I whole heartedly support a year round transportation, and believe it will be a tremendous asset to not only Intrawest but every citizen. A year round bus system will make Winter Park and the surrounding communities become a better place for guests to visit and people to live. Ed Raegner Tabernash

Grand County transportation authority forms

A group of community leaders has appointed an unofficial transportation authority to work on improving transportation in Grand County. Representatives from both the public and private sectors convened at the Grand County Transportation Stakeholders Summit on Monday, Aug. 18, in the Mountain Parks Electric Community Meeting Room to discuss new possibilities for transportation throughout the county. Leaders chose five focus areas in which to move forward: resurrecting the now defunct "ski train" from Denver to Grand County, upgrading Grand County's current transportation system, establishing a cross county transportation system between Kremmling and Winter Park, identifying funding alternatives for transportation, and developing transportation to and from county airports. Participants discussed the importance of having a transportation "spine" in Grand County, which would connect smaller, community-based transportation systems. "Not having a strong transportation system is deterring us from being sustainable as a county," said Catherine Ross, director of the Winter Park-Fraser Chamber of Commerce. The group elected representatives from both sides of the county, from both government and private entities, to form a task force to decide how the county can pursue its transportation goals. Jane Hickey with the Colorado Department of Transportation, said she thought the cohesiveness of those at the meeting would move any county proposals forward in the queue for CDOT funding. "You have all the pieces that you need, and you're living in a jewel of a county, and you're all willing to share it with people from the outside," said Hickey. Lance Gutersohn, who was selected for the new committee, said he wasn't sure yet when the first meeting would take place. The county is conducting community assessments to determine where the county's transportation needs lie, though during the meeting, attendants identified health care users, daycare users, schools, tourists and lodging consumers as major stakeholders in county transportation. Local leaders are also working with Downtown Colorado Inc., a Denver-based non-profit, to determine what the county needs to move forward with transportation improvement and reform. The business will hold a "citizens academy" in the spring to educate local leaders on engaging citizens to affect change. Hank Shell can be reached at 970-887-3334 ext. 19610.

Grand County moves forward on transportation plan

Grand County Planning and Zoning will move forward with developing a request for proposal to develop a transportation plan for Grand County. A transportation advisory committee, comprised of community, business and transportation interests, met on Thursday morning, April 9, to discuss the scope of the RFP. Officials hope to establish a "backbone" transit system that could ferry both visitors and residents between communities. Additional community or business-managed "spur" systems could then connect to the system. The committee also hopes to improve the interconnectivity of communities through rail, trails and airports. The idea of countywide transit is nothing new. Numerous transportation plans and analyses have mulled the possibility of a transit system in the past. "It seems like we've always reached that kind of point to make a decision and for whatever reason it has kind of fallen to the wayside," Senior Planner Bill Gray said. More recently, the Grand County Economic Development Advisory Committee suggested that a transit system could possibly foster economic development, which led to a transportation roundtable in August 2014. This year, the Grand County Board of Commissioners included funding for the RFP in the planning and zoning budget, Gray said. During the meeting, representatives discussed the possible organization of such a transit system, potential funding avenues and the breadth of services to be offered. Planes, trains and … Lance Gutersohn, who helped secure funding to develop the RFP, said rail service and airports should be crucial components to any transportation plan that the county develops. "We had an incredible conversation this week with Amtrak, who is so ready to do whatever we ask of them, which is a totally different situation than we've ever seen before," Gutersohn said. He added that the state's transportation plan includes adding more regular rail service to Grand County. To take advantage of that, Gutersohn said the county must have a transportation system in place to circulate Amtrak passengers throughout the county. The committee also discussed possible funding for a transit system. Kremmling Town Manager Mark Campbell said a countywide sales tax increase of 1 percent could bring in around $3 million per year, with a majority of the funding coming from tourists and visitors. Some of that revenue could be a secure source of funding for Headwaters Trails Alliance, which oversees initiatives to manage and improve trails in the county, with a portion also going toward a backbone transit system. Gutersohn said cost estimates for a limited backbone system were around $2 million per year, excluding startup costs. Community buy-in The committee also discussed soliciting budgeted funding from communities. Currently, the county has a $100,000 budgeted toward a consultant, though Assistant County Manager Ed Moyer said he'd like to see some of that money saved for future phases of the project. Gray suggested that the RFP solicit pilot projects that could be initiated quickly, with other parts of the plan being implemented later. "Obviously other transit systems have become successful by simply just starting," Gray said. Gray said he hoped to have the RFP completed by April 24 and hire a consultant by the end of May.

Sulphur District finalizes full scale beetle kill management plan

Sulphur District Ranger Craig Magwire signed a decision on Friday for the Willow Creek Salvage and Fuels Reduction Project located on National Forest System lands north of Hot Sulphur Springs and northwest of Granby in response to the mountain pine beetle epidemic. Although, multiple decisions will be issued this first decision will implement the following activities and treatments: – Harvest an estimated 2,319 acres to salvage beetle-killed trees. – Treat hazardous fuels on an estimated 109 acres. ∞ Transportation management actions include decommissioning, re-routing, and changing designated uses, and will affect 113.7 miles of routes (roads, trails, and ways) within the analysis area. The miles of transportation routes open to the public will change from 145.6 to 135.1 miles following implementation. The purpose of the Willow Creek project is to remove dead and dying lodgepole pine and hazardous fuel accumulations as part of the ongoing effort to respond to the Mountain Pine Beetle (MPB) epidemic on the Sulphur Ranger District. Vegetation management activities include commercial timber harvesting, non-mechanical fuels reduction treatments, and use of prescribed and natural fire. Travel management actions, designed to preserve or enhance resources while maintaining recreation and management access, are also part of this project. The decision concludes the analysis, which started in 2007 and balanced many considerations, including reducing hazardous fuel accumulations, providing for public and firefighter safety in the event of a wildfire, maintaining healthy watersheds and effective wildlife habitat, and providing for public and administrative access. To see the decision or the analysis documents, please check online at http://www.fs.fed.us/r2/arnf/projects/eaprojects/srd/willowcreek/index.shtml or call Jeff Underhill at 887-4142 for more information.

Survey demonstrates demand for public transit in Grand County

When the Grand Foundation, the Grand County Board of Commissioners and the Grand County Needs Assessment Committee contracted with the National Research Center, Inc., to conduct a county-wide assessment to identify the needs of Grand County residents, the intended outcomes were to “understand and prioritize critical issues facing Grand County and to qualify and quantify the scope of current and future needs to help establish appropriate goals for the Grand Foundation and local government.” In this column we have looked at this issue in order of priority: Natural Environment, Sense of Community, Economy and Employment, Planning and Growth, Health and Human Services, and Education, Transportation. Ease of automobile travel and the availability of alternate modes of transportation affect the quality of life of residents by providing opportunities to travel quickly and safely to work, home, shopping and recreation. Local government planning must ensure easy traffic flow, but supportive government programs and policies must exist to offer options for resident mobility through multiple travel modes. Traffic challenges are prevalent in Colorado and many resort communities; interestingly, ease of travel by car, bike and walking was given a better rating in Grand County than the national average. Congestion and commute times were not rated as significant problems, and the roads generally were perceived to be well maintained. For instance, snow removal from major streets received an 87 percent above “excellent or good” rating. However, transportation services garnered only 15 percent approval. The key transportation challenge for Grand County is the need for increased public transportation services – especially in the Eastern and Central parts of the county. Resident ratings for senior transportation and bus travel during peak season and off-peak season employer-sponsored transportation were rated as poor. Residents dependent upon the bus for travel voiced the most discontent with limited public transportation services. The Spanish-speaking focus group participants were particularly vocal on this subject. One said, “The transportation is only available in the winter for free, and it only caters to the tourists.” Another suggested, “We are forced to have a car, but we can not get a driver’s license, so people are driving without a license. They have no other choice.” Fewer workers in Grand County reported using public transportation to travel to and from work compared to residents in other rural resort towns. (In Pitkin County, 10.6 percent of workers use public transportation; in Summit, 5 percent; while in Grand the percent is 1.3.) Safety of pedestrian and bicycle travel was also a transportation issue. Said one person in the 25-40 year old focus group: “I have walked to City Market from downtown, and that was a hazardous walk with my daughters because there is no curb. I think bike paths or sidewalks.” Others suggested paving the Fraser to Granby Trail would keep bicycles off Highway 40. Key opportunities identified in the transportation category include exploring increased bus routes with shorter times between buses and more bus stops, reviewing the transit models used by other rural resort regions to create a master plan, examining public-private partnerships, creating taxing strategies for funding public transit, and determining the feasibility of subsidizing transit for low-wage workers. Clarification: Last week’s column about the survey of attitudes toward Grand County schools incorrectly stated the year during which the survey was conducted. Residents were surveyed in 2009.

Rural Health names Jim Magill as 2014 Volunteer of the Year

Grand County Rural Health Network celebrated its volunteers Tuesday, Nov. 18, at The Midtown Café in Granby. Volunteers are a vital part of the organization and are involved in fundraising, daily operations, and transportation of clients. Jim Magill was named 2014 Volunteer of the year. Jim has been on the board since 2013 and is also a volunteer driver. Jim has driven over 1,900 miles this year, often accompanied by his wife Beth. This is critical to Grand County residents, who for health and income reasons, have no transportation in and out of the county for their medical appointments. Jim's graciousness and flexibility make this program viable. We are beyond grateful for his service. We could not continue to serve the community without people like Jim, and our more than 65 volunteers. Grand County Rural Health Network is always looking for medical transportation volunteers. This service is severely lacking in the community and is imperative for the health of county residents who lack this resource. One trip a year makes a difference in someone's life. Please call us at 970-725-3477 for more information and other volunteer opportunities.

Grand County Real Estate Transactions, February 13-19, 2011

Arrowhead Condominiums Bldg 3, Units 25,26,27,28,29,30,31,32,33,34 – Partial Legal – See Documents – Pueblo Bank Trust Company to Majestic Heights LLC, $1,400,000Aspen Meadows Condominiums Unit 107, Bldg C – Aspen Meadows Condominiums LLC to Thomas Frey and Elaine Prenkowitz-Frey, $109,900East Mountain Filing 6, Lot 110 – Colonnade Resort Communities LLC to Phillip, Bridget, Michael and Wendy Zerr, $575,000East Mountain Filing 3, Lot 20 – Valerie Kilzer and Teri Fotheringham to Henry Edmond Smith, Jr., $390,000Lions Gate Pines Lodge Condo Unit 113, Week 24, and Condo Unit 121, Week 22 – Mary O’Callaghan to Lions Gate Pines Lodge Condominiums Association Inc, $500Sunset Ridge Estates Subdivision Exemption IV Lot 15 – PNC Mortgage, PNC Bank National Association to Byron and Melinda Besse, $325,000Meadow Ridge Lodges Court 5, Unit 6 – Donald and Dorothie Dorband to Shane O’Reilly, $106,000Village at Mountain Sky Grand Elk Ranch & Club Lot D17 – Countrywide Bank FSB to Alan Coldwell, $257,250Mountainside at SilverCreek C U 113 Timeshare #113511 – Karen E Darr Mason to Mountainside SilverCreek Timeshare Owners Association, $500Innsbruck-Val Moritz Lot 25, Block 17 – Dean and Theresa Cinocco to David Peter Whalen Revocable Trust and Jackye Anne Whalen Revocable Trust, $471,000Granby Ranch Filing No. 5, Lot 9 – NVH WIP LLP Village Homes to Ernesto and Jennifer Aieta, $325,000Soda Springs #2 Meadows TR-E U B5 TRT E – David and Virginia Latz to David and Donna Tinkler, $165,500Fraser Crossing-Founders Pointe Condominium Unit 3313 – Wells Fargo Bank NA to Jeffery and Susan Fanning, $219,800Grand Lake Hideaway U 2D Bldg Lodge – JLP Corporation South Florida Inc to Angela and John Powell III, $125,000Trailhead Lodges Lodge 7, Unit 733 – Mitsu LLC to Norman Lautrup, $450,000

McElroys win ‘Furnacesaurus’ contest

The granddaughter of a homesteader didn’t know it, but her home’s furnace is nearly as old as the Town of Kremmling itself. In the Grand Lake Plumbing and Heating contest seeking the county’s oldest furnace – or “Furnacesaurus”- Therese McElroy’s 113 year-old relic was the hands-down winner, according to Marketing Manager Lindsey Morrow of Grand Lake Plumbing. The house used as the McElroy’s ranch home since 1945 was originally built in 1882, and the Western Oiled Gas Fire Furnace in the basement was installed just before the turn of the century. Originally a diesel-oiled gas furnace, it eventually was converted to coal. Then in the late 1960s, when McElroy’s parents converted the furnace to natural gas, Xcel Energy awarded the McElroys for being the 1,000th customer of natural gas to the area. Their gas meter was painted gold, and Xcel gave them a gas grill and threw a banquet in their honor. Soon, a gazebo was built on the property to accommodate the new grill, Teresa recalled. The “enormous” family furnace has been a trusty workhorse ever since, sputtering out heat in the two story home just outside of Kremmling with a surprising 81 percent efficiency. “Just by looking at it, I knew it was old,” McElroy said. But there are only two vents in her childhood home, one in the downstairs bathroom and one in the living room. An old cook stove in the kitchen and a wood stove in the living room help supplement heat during winters. “It doesn’t warm the house very well,” McElroy said. For wining the contest, the McElroy home has been awarded a new energy-efficient furnace. A retired school nurse who ran her home as a bed and breakfast for 10 years, Teresa said she looks forward to adding new ducts and vents to heat upstairs bedrooms and the kitchen. But since she can’t afford installation of the new furnace, Xcel rebate programs and money through Recharge Colorado is being tapped to help pay, said Morrow. The “Furnacesaurus” contest took place during the month of March with 19 entries and furnaces ranging in age from 6 to 113 years. Technicians were sent out to entrants’ homes to gather information about the furnaces such as serial numbers, which were verified with manufacturers to confirm proper ages. The contest took place in both Routt and Grand counties. “We figured so many people in this area have inefficient heating systems, and with the cold temperatures, we wanted to be able to give back to the community,” Morrow said. And the next contest planned through Grand Lake Plumbing? “Ugliest heating system,” Morrow said. Although details of the contest are still being worked out, this next contest is planned for October and November – just in time for Father Winter. – Tonya Bina can be reached at 970-887-3334 ext.19603

A modest proposal: Public transportation for Grand County

It would take $6.9 million in start-up costs and $5 million in operating costs to have a countywide transit system in Grand County. Nine eighth graders confidently presented these figures Thursday to a roomful of spectators ” the culmination of a year’s worth of research. With the help of teacher Abby Loberg, the students had practiced for two weeks in preparation for the presentation. Their hard work paid off. “Talking about this plan raises awareness, and students deserve a lot of credit because it’s something desperately needed,” said Ron Jones, owner of Winter Park’s Cooper Creek Square, following the presentation. “I thought they did a fabulous job,” said Mike Fudge, manager of First Transit that operates fixed route buses through the winter to the ski area, Winter Park, Fraser and Granby. He told the audience the ingredient needed most to make inter-county transit a reality is agency cooperation. “A public system will not work unless all the towns come together. We need to get all of our governmental entities, cities and counties, together to figure out who’s on board and who’s not.” Since October, the students’ “Grand Transit” bus system proposal has been both a research project and an exercise in public relations. It has its own Web site, has been discussed in radio commercials, seen on Channel 17 television commercials, written about in newspaper articles and depicted in student-drawn political cartoons. The class of 100 East Grand Middle School eight-graders researched, calculated and rationalized a topic, which county, town and resort officials have been chewing on themselves. “Very well done,” said C.A. Lane, assistant general manager of Winter Park Resort after the presentation. The resort along with the Town of Winter Park has been spearheading transportation studies detailing countywide transit since 2000. “The (students) considered the operational costs, the capital investment, the taxing medium and the grant possibilities. I was very impressed,” Lane said. Any hope of a transit system as defined by the students lies in a transportation study already kick-started by funding partners Winter Park, Fraser, Grand County and Winter Park Resort. It is currently in the hands of consultants who are working to find out the feasibility of taking a private resort transit system and turning it into a public system implemented with federal funding. A Transportation Advisory Committee is being formed, and the study is set to be completed by the end of the year if not sooner, according to Winter Park Town Planner Drew Nelson. The students analyzed Eagle and Summit county models for the scope of their study and found that both systems were implemented 20 years ago at a time when population sizes were comparable to Grand County’s population today. Eighth-graders advocate year-round transportation with several stops throughout the entire county, a system supported by increased sales tax. Through sales tax, visitors, second-homeowners and full-time residents would foot the bill for the service. “A public transit system would decrease traffic and pollution,” the proposal reads. The students also researched solar-powered and bio-diesel busses for its transit system. If solar-powered, zero-emissions electric busses could be introduced in the city of Adelaide, Australia, why not here? “With gas prices at over $3 per gallon, annual fuel costs could easily be over $1 million,” the Grand Transit study reads. “But, if we paid the up-front higher cost for solar buses, we would save that money in the long-run by never having to pay for gas.” “It was a great experience,” said eighth-grader Marshall Simone. He did the bulk of grant research for the study and during the presentation, proposed arguments in favor of the transit system. “I’m hoping the eighth graders raised awareness, and I’m hoping it will get on the ballot and get passed. With the support of community members, I think that’s possible.” Chris and Mike Lorton of Fraser attended the event to watch their eighth-grade daughter, Audra. Chris said she evaluates the necessity of driving every time she hops into the family car. A countywide transit system would not only save in the family’s pocketbook, but would save on impacts to the environment. A transit system would also provide opportunities for children in other communities not presently available without transportation, such as participation in Grand Lake’s youth theatre company during the summer. “Some kids don’t participate because parents just can’t do (drive them),” the mother said. Fudge commends the students’ proposal for raising awareness of the topic. A year-round system would help communities by providing more jobs, as well as providing reliable transportation to a growing population. “They need to stay on their parents and grandparents and everyone about transportation to keep it on the forefront of everybody’s minds,” he said. Students will get at least one more chance. They are scheduled to present the study for a final time at the May 20 school board meeting at the East Grand School District office behind the Middle Park High School. The meeting is open to the public. ” Tonya Bina can be reached at 887-3334 ext. 19603 or e-mail tbina@grandcountynews.com.