The city of Cortez is transferring a small parcel of land to Montezuma County so that construction on the Seventh Street extension can begin.
The county commissioners have hoped for some time to extend Seventh Street from Sligo Street to County Road 27. But half the property for the road extension is on city property, and Cortez does not currently have extra funds to complete the project – the transfer will allow the county to start work on the extension.
“This is an exchange,” said City Attorney Mike Green at Tuesday night’s regular council meeting. “We’re getting paved street into Sligo, they’re getting the ability to do it and make it part of a county road. So it’s a win-win for both sides.”
The proposed half-mile road extension will connect the eastern edge of Seventh Street – after the road has turned into Sligo Street – to County Road 27. The city’s portion runs along the south side of the high school property, while the rest is on county land.
The purpose of the extension is to alleviate Main Street traffic and create an additional route to the high school. Montezuma-Cortez School District Re-1 transportation staff have also expressed support for the plan – the district’s bus garage is located along County Road 27, and a new road could allow buses to circumvent Main Street altogether.
Initially, the county looked to collaborate with the city on the project. But right now, the city is in the midst of funding shortfalls, due to delayed audits and a recently discovered embezzlement case.
At a previous meeting, County Administrator Shak Powers had presented the possibility of the city de-annexing the land to the county and allowing the county to build the whole segment.
As a county road, the extension will have different requirements than it would if the city was sharing the job – in particular, the county requires a road width of 30 feet, while the city requires roads to be 42 feet wide.
On Tuesday, Councilor Ty Keel emphasized that the school district will also benefit from the final product, cutting down on road time for bus drivers and improving safety for students.
“A third party (is) involved that benefits,” Keel said.
The council unanimously voted to authorize Mayor Karen Sheek to sign necessary transfer documents. Two more council meetings are required before the ordinance allowing the property transfer can be adopted, according to Green.