Grand Junction street work accelerates under ballot measure

Greg Caton
Greg Caton

Another $5.8 million will be spent on street repairs and maintenance in Grand Junction in the second year of a voter-approved effort.

The City of Grand Junction spent $8.34 million on street projects in 2017 and plans to spend  a total of $21.4 million from 2019 to 2021 — levels made possible in part by the approval of a ballot measure in April 2017.

“Investing in infrastructure is one of the strategic directives outlined in the strategic plan adopted by city council in 2017. The city is making a very deliberate effort to improve the quality of the roadway system here in Grand Junction, and our efforts are already noticeable,” said Grand Junction City Manager Greg Caton. “There is often inconvenience associated with increased road work, but we are confident that the end result will be well worth the short-term disruption and that our roads will be something we can all feel good about.”

Measure 2B allows the city to pay for street maintenance using tax revenues collected above the limit allowed by state constitutional limits and initially earmarked to pay back bonds sold to finance construction of the Riverside Parkway.

City voters approved a so-called TABOR override in 2007 to pay off the bonds early and realize a savings on the interest. But city officials said more could be saved in redirecting those funds for street maintenance rather than deferring the work.

Counting $3.8 million in funds previously earmarked to pay off parkway bonds and money the city already budgets for street and pavement projects, an average of $7 million a year will be available through 2021. So far, the work has included reconstruction of First Street in 2017 and the reconstruction of Seven Street now under way.

One goal of the effort  will be to improve the pavement condition index for the city street system. The most recent overall average for the system is 69 on a scale of 1 to 100. That’s down from 78 in 2004.

Still, Grand Junction streets fare better in the assessment than streets in other Colorado cities, including Colorado Springs at 56, Greeley at 62, Durango at 65, Littleton at 66, Northglenn at 62 and  Montrose and Steamboat Springs at 68. According to the Colorado Asphalt Paving Association, the weighted average across Colorado is 68.