Bayfield town trustees have approved a Highway 160 Access Control Plan that designates future highway accesses from the west end of Gem Village to the east edge of Bayfield.
It's the culmination of a two-year process in partnership with the county and Colorado Department of Transportation. Trustees approved the access plan and related intergovernmental agreement (IGA) on June 23, contingent on the other two agencies also signing on. No community members showed up to comment on the plan.
The plan is supposed to be the means to re-open CDOT's 2006 Highway 160 Corridor Environmental Impact Statement to address Bayfield area issues, especially at the west end of Bayfield Parkway. The plan shows that intersection reconfigured in its current location with a stoplight.
The 2006 EIS shows a bypass south of Gem Village that joins the current 160 alignment just east of Gem Village. It shows the Bayfield Parkway west end intersection closed and a new intersection about a third of a mile to the east. The town and adjacent land owners have opposed that. But back in 2006, the town's focus was to protect the Commerce Drive intersection rather than what might happen at the west end of Bayfield Parkway.
As it turned out, plans to expand the electric sub-station near the west end of the parkway blocked the EIS route for the relocated intersection.
"The EIS still stands," Town Manager Chris La May told trustees. "We went through this two year process to see if we couldn't come up with a better plan. When it comes time to open the EIS from Gem Village on, we can use this document."
Highway corridor maps and charts listing each public and private access are the meat of the access control plan. They show new accesses, current accesses that will be closed or restricted at some point, and intersections that could eventually have stoplights. It doesn't address who would pay for those or when they will happen.
According to the plan, access into Gem Village from the south bypass will be a new connector road just west of the Billy Goat Saloon, with a stoplight on the bypass. Along with stoplights at the west end of Bayfield Parkway and at Eight Corners, the plan also shows a stoplight at the east end of Bayfield Parkway.
The plan "doesn't necessarily please everyone, but it was cooperatively prepared and gives us a good template for future access points," La May said.
In December 2014, CDOT representatives acknowledged that Commerce Drive is a legally deeded access, as town representatives have argued for years. La May said the plan leaves Commerce "in its current configuration until the east intersection is developed with a road going north, hopefully to major commercial development. Then Commerce would probably be 3/4 movement," with no left turns from Commerce onto 160. It also will be contingent on a frontage road connection to the east intersection, he said.
Mayor Rick Smith added, "At Commerce the key thing is the south side (access to the pawn shop) would be closed." Town representatives have supported that.
The plan is intended to supercede the "Expressway" designation put on this section of highway in 1999 by the State Transportation Commission despite strong objections by town and business representatives. The Expressway designation means public accesses are supposed to be one mile apart in most situations.
The IGA says, "This Agreement supercedes and controls all prior written and oral agreements and representations of the Agencies concerning regulating vehicular access to the (highway) segments."
The IGA also says, "Access points that were in existence prior to the effective date of this Agreement may continue in existence until such time as a change in the access is required by the Access Control Plan, the Access Law, in the course of highway reconstruction, or as determined appropriate in the course of development, redevelopment, subdivision actions or change of use by the Town or County. When closure, modification, or relocation of access is necessary or required, the Agenccies having jurisdiction shall utilize appropriate legal process to effect such action."
The IGA does not create any financial obligation to the town, county, or CDOT. The plan can be modified with approval of all three entities.