• 20201120-110504-news-baileysafe

Some Bailey residents have formed a group called SAFE285 to promote safety along the corridor and to push back on a Colorado Department of Transportation project that would remove the traffic light at the intersection of U.S. 285 and County Road 43.

The $1.35 million project, which is part of the Funding Advancements for Surface Transportation and Economy Recovery (FASTER) safety program, includes two sections: a half-mile stretch of northbound U.S. 285 within the town of Bailey and a mile-long stretch on both the north- and southbound sides of the road between the interchange of County Road 72 and Rosalie Road.

Section A — the portion including the northbound side of the highway through Bailey — will decrease the travel speed and provide deceleration lanes. Section B will, among other things, remove the traffic light at the County Road 43 interchange, add a median barrier, allow for free right turns at County Road 43 and increase the length of the northbound acceleration lane.

Following a July 9 virtual community meeting, CDOT initially said it was going through a bidding process to obtain a contractor and would begin construction later this fall. However, it now says the project will be delayed as CDOT takes additional time to assess the project following public feedback.

Removal of light

Although removing the light might speed up traffic on U.S. 285, opponents of the project say it would be harmful for Bailey businesses and residents along County Road 43. Dozens of businesses are located near the intersection, including the Loaf ‘N Jug, Crow Hill Bible Church, Delwood Square Liquors and Dollar General.

“Before we’ll ever get behind removing this light, they need to put the infrastructure in place to make all the intersections impacted by this light safer,” said Tim Gregg, director of area development with the Platte Canyon Chamber of Commerce.

In addition to sharing grievances, SAFE285 suggested a number of potential solutions, including stopping the project until a comprehensive traffic study is completed, installing a smart signal to allow variable timing, restriping the roads to better utilize existing pavement and extending the merge lanes.

Community representation

More than anything, members of SAFE285 said they’re upset that there wasn’t more conversation prior to the July 9 meeting in which CDOT indicated it was already in the midst of the bidding process.

An initial community meeting last October was packed, but since then, residents say they hadn’t heard much about the project.

Bailey resident Liz Biggs said it’s crucial to ensure the community’s voices are heard.

“We feel like we’re not being represented. We’re not being heard. So now it’s up to the business owners and the residents to make us heard,” Biggs said.

“CDOT talks about safety. We’re concerned about safety, too,” added Mark Linne, chairman of the SAFE285 group and a local business owner. “But we’re also concerned about being able to provide our input, and I think that’s what was lost here.”

Contact reporter Deborah Swearingen at dswearingen @evergreenco.com or 303-350-1042. Follow her on Twitter @djswearingen.