Are you aware that the Colorado Department of Transportation is planning to spend more than $76 million to realign U.S. Highway 550 to avoid Farmington Hill?
In meetings recently, CDOT presented plans to route 550 from the top of Farmington Hill to connect with the infamous Bridge to Nowhere. It will cut across the historic Craig and Webb ranches and will include another large bridge across U.S. Highway 160, an 880-foot-wide cut (equal to three football fields) 40 to 120 feet deep, through 1,400 feet of piñon, ponderosa and juniper forests and across two significant ravines.
According to CDOT, there will be irreparable damage to historic ranchlands, archaeological sites and wildlife habitat.
The estimated cost of the project is more than $76 million, which doesnt include the second bridge, relocation of the excavated dirt and gravel or additional bridges across the ravines. (The existing bridge and interchange cost taxpayers $47 million.) Highway 550 drivers will travel farther, consume more fuel, and spend more time and money driving. It will be financed by our overburdened state and federal dollars.
Is a project this extensive necessary in order to solve problems on a half mile of highway? Hopefully not. The Webb Ranch owners and engineers have submitted a new proposal to modify Farmington Hill and rectify its safety issues with less destruction and at a lower cost.
Contact CDOT, as well as state and federal legislators. Ask them to work with the Webb proposal and give it, and any viable alternative in the current alignment, serious consideration. If its safe and doable, its a win for all of us. Public involvement is critical, and time is of the essence.
Submit your comments by Nov. 28 at www.coloradodot.info/projects/us550-at-160; or write to Sandra Taylor, CDOT, 3803 N. Main Ave., Suite 300, Durango, CO 81301; or e-mail Nancy.Shanks@dot.state.co.us.