RIDGWAY – With just a few details to iron out, southwest Colorado will once again have bus service on a route connecting Durango and Grand Junction.
Two years after Greyhound suspended service in the region, Road Runner Stage Lines is proposing daily runs from Durango, through Telluride, Ridgway and Montrose to Grand Junction and back again.
Ridgway Area Chamber of Commerce representative Gale Ingram came before town council Wednesday, at its regular June meeting, to ask for a use permit to allow Road Runner’s buses to drop off and pick up passengers in the town-owned parking lot at the Visitor Center on Highway 62.
The northbound bus would stop in Ridgway at 10:15 a.m., and the southbound would come through at 3:30 p.m. Although times and locations for all stops have not been finalized yet, according to Road Runner Transit Division Director Clayton Richter, stops in Telluride (at Society Conoco) and Montrose (at the Shell station by the airport) have been set. Richter told The Watch, “We’re waiting for CDOT to approve the contract; then we’ll get our buses rehabbed, and we hope to begin service later this summer.”
Councilor Eric Johnson asked Ingram if the Chamber would be selling tickets for Road Runner, which is a division of the non-profit Southern Ute Community Action Program, Inc. “They can sell tickets on the bus,” Ingram said. “They’ve got a bathroom on board, too. But, yes, we could sell tickets out of the Visitor Center. And we’d get a commission. That would be good for us.”
The Ridgway complications stem from the two leases involved, on the driveway, which also provides access to the Fairgrounds (a lease held by Ouray County), and the town’s lease to the Chamber, as well as possible turning challenges should the existing Park-and-Ride lot be full.
“There is a little bit of concern [about the Park-and-Ride lot],” said Fairgrounds Manager Susan Long. “Please know I’m not opposed. I really don’t have a problem with it. It’s just how can we get ’em in there and get ’em out. Safely.”
Town Manager Jen Coates suggested the council could “conditionally issue the permit, and let the town and the county work out the details.”
Council unanimously agreed.
FAIRGROUNDS GRANDSTAND CONDEMNED
An emotional Susan Long, Ouray County Fairgrounds Manager, came before Ridgway’s town council last week with news that the fairgrounds’ 60-plus-year-old grandstand will have to be torn down and cannot be used, as originally hoped, for the remaining summer events, including the annual Labor Day Fair and Rodeo.
Long reported that once the roof was removed, “the engineers determined that the grandstand is in really, really bad shape. They’re done. They were built sometime around the Korean War, just with cinder block and dirt fill. We’ll put chain link fence around it for public safety for the remainder of this year.
“Am I sick about this? I am. I get emotional. But the silver lining is, we are going to get a new grandstand on the fairgrounds.”
Ouray County Commissioner Lynn Padgett attended the meeting to assure the town, “The County tried every available opportunity to satisfy the engineers and our insurance company to keep the grandstand open this summer.”
She also wanted councilors to be aware that the upcoming Rural Philanthropy Days will be bringing “200 potential funders” to the county, funders who could be wooed in addition to the GOCO grant Long is already pursuing to get the new grandstand project underway.
PUBLIC/PRIVATE BEAUTIFICATION ON CLINTON STREET
Ridgway’s Main Street Committee reported to Town Council last week on their project to beautify several vacant lots on Clinton Street, the town’s original main business street.
Speaking for the volunteer committee, Joan Chismire detailed improvements to several lots beginning with the empty space immediately west of the Post Office, owned by Henry Hite. With formal approval from council, the committee will install several trellis-like wall panels on the Hite property, plant them with Cascade hops (courtesy of the Colorado Boy Brewery), nasturtiums and sunflowers, and (eventually) install at least one bench on the corner of Clinton and Lena streets.
Other vacant lots to be tackled down the road include the Decker property west of Kate’s Place and (possibly) the lot adjacent to Michael McCullough’s Firehouse Gallery and the lot across Cora Street from the Colorado Boy.
The idea, Chismire said, is to encourage pedestrian and car traffic off the highway and into Ridgway’s business district. “We’re trying to show that these are areas that are not used but they’re loved,” said Chismire, who acknowledged donations to the project from Transition OurWay and the Ouray County Ranch History Museum.
CDOT WANTS PARADE ROUTE SHORTENED
Town Manager Jen Coates relayed a message last week from CDOT to the Ridgway Town Council: the State Department of Transportation would like to see parade routes shortened or detoured around their traditional course down Sherman Street, otherwise known as Highway 62.
Rick Routh, of Region 5 Traffic and Safety Division, wrote to say he understood that the town has hosted parades for years without a formal permit from CDOT, but that would not be the case in the future. Citing wait times for through traffic, Routh suggested the town either shorten its parades or come up with alternate routes that avoid Hwy 62 altogether.
Despite some grumbling (“This is a whole lot of trouble for a 20 minute parade,” said one audience member), council discussed lopping a block off either end of the traditional route, entertaining the idea of rerouting future parades down Clinton Street instead. Or possibly Hyde Street. Or directing through traffic around town on County Roads 5 and 24.
Councilor Ellen Hunter: “What’s wrong with having the parade go down Clinton? It was the old main street.”
Councilor Jim Kavanaugh: “I don’t see anything.”
Mayor John Clark: “I don’t have a problem with it.”
Hunter: “How does Ouray deal with its [Fourth of July] parade?”
Coates reminded council that Routh had already granted a permit for [last weekend’s] Heritage Days parade, on the highway, but that the town would have to come up with a plan to be submitted to CDOT for the Labor Day event.