A fifth public meeting is planned for April to hear community input on the future of the controversial County Road BB and U.S. 491 intersection in Pleasant View.
The Colorado Department of Transportation wants to spend $630,000 to make the intersection a right-in, right-out only to reduce the potential for crashes.
CDOT data show the crossroads has a high rate of accidents, and is dangerous because of a hill that restricts sight distance, especially for vehicles turning left.
But during public meetings the past two years, there has been strong opposition to major changes at the junction, which is relied on by local farmers and ranchers.
A proposal to close the intersection in exchange for state funding for other nearby roads was rejected by the Montezuma County Commission. The intersection is within the jurisdiction of CDOT.
CDOT and the county commission again tried to resolve the issue during a phone conference Friday. CDOT hinted it might walk away, at least temporarily, from changing the intersection.
“If you don’t want to do anything, we need that in writing, and we will take this money to the next intersection with need,” said Mike McVaugh, southwest regional director for CDOT.
Commissioner Keenan Ertel wondered if the county could be liable it they walked away from safety improvements on a dangerous intersection.
“If we back off and someone gets killed, I will never sleep again,” he said. “Somebody could sue us for that kind of decisionmaking.”
He urged CDOT to consider other options to improve safety besides the unpopular right-in, right-out plan, such as north and southbound acceleration lanes, lower speed limit, and a left turn lane going onto Road BB.
But CDOT said increased traffic on the highway increases the chance for crashes at the intersection, and the right-in, right-out plan is the best solution.
“The hill and limited sight distance are the main problems because drivers can’t adjust in time to avoid an accident,” McVaugh said.
CDOT said the right-in, right-out solution protects locals as well as drivers who are unaware of the danger the intersection presents.
The commissioners decided that residents need a chance to weigh in on whether they can live with a right-in, right-out solution to the intersection.
“The only way to find out what constituents want is to ask them,” said commissioner Larry Don Suckla. “We are giving up local control if we don’t have a public hearing and hear from the people, then make a decision.”