Businesses beg city to fix Horizon Drive Deathtrap; City claims “Sorry, no funds”

Matthew Bandelin, struck by a vehicle and killed at age 38 while trying to cross Horizon Drive in January, 2015

The headline article in today’s Daily Sentinel, “No quick fix on Horizon,” tells how for years businesses along Horizon Drive have been begging the City of Grand Junction to make the street safer for pedestrians.

Three pedestrians, all tourists, have been killed by vehicles on Horizon Drive in the last seven years trying to cross the street between the hotels and restaurant establishments. The three victims were all killed within 700 feet of each other. These people lost their lives merely because they visited our town. Many others have been very badly injured crossing Horizon Drive, but lived. The safety problem on Horizon has been well known to the City for a long time, but nothing has been done during all this time to make the street any safer for pedestrians.

The Horizon Drive Business Improvement District, all too aware of the problem, asked City Council yet again at the Tuesday, September 5 for help to make the street, often called the “Gateway to Grand Junction,” safer, only to be turned away yet again.

Business owners proposed constructing three raised crossing zones with pedestrian-activated warning lights and protective medians where pedestrians could wait safely for traffic to clear, at an estimated cost of $200,000 to $250,000.

The City’s answer? They just don’t have the funds.

Oh, really?

Plenty of money, but for other things

Loretta Goldie Clark Peretta, 79, killed after being hit by a vehicle on Horizon Drive in June, 2012. She was staying at the Super 8 with her husband and they were walking to Applebee’s for dinner. They were on a trip to see Mt. Rushmore

The City of Grand Junction provides $500,000 per year to support the expansion and property acquisition efforts of Colorado Mesa University (pdf). That’s a whole lot of taxpayer money and CMU’s property acquisition isn’t a life-or-death need like the Horizon Drive Deathtrap. The City could easily put half of that amount towards fixing the Horizon Drive Deathtrap for one year. It only seems fair given the pressing need.

The City also spends $6,350 to be top-level member of the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce, which made a name for itself with it’s bigotry, bullying and intimidation, overbearing political involvement, across-the-board opposition to higher wages for workers, and fake “Buy Local” programs. The Chamber lobbies the City, so by its membership, the City is funneling the Chamber money to lobby itself. That’s just silly, and a big waste of money. In exchange for it’s many thousands in membership fees, the City gets a table at the Chamber’s annual banquet, sponsorship of a hole in the Chamber’s annual golf tournament, premier seating at Chamber events and the City logo on the Chamber’s website.

Now, is that really a worthwhile investment of taxpayer funds, especially when life and limb is at stake?

It would seem the $6,350 in Chamber membership money would be better put towards fixing the Horizon Drive Deathtrap. The City shouldn’t belong to the chamber at all, but if for some reason it feels it must grease the palm of the chamber, the City could certainly be a member for a few years at the lowest level ($340/year) and put the difference of over $6,000/year into safety improvements to fix the Horizon Drive Deathtrap.

The City also pledged to put $22,000 and put 350 labor hours toward changing the street signs on North Avenue to read “University Boulevard.” There’s yet another pot of money that could be diverted from a non life-or-death use and put towards fixing the Horizon Drive Deathtrap.

So there is certainly plenty of money available. The question is, what are the City’s priorities?

It’s getting to the point where one more death or bad injury to a pedestrian on Horizon Drive could open the City up to a lawsuit for its longstanding, willful neglect of a known dangerous condition. Would it take a wrongful death lawsuit to get the City’s attention on this matter?

Why does the City put a higher priority on its Chamber membership and CMU than it does on human safety?

It’s an ugly question and sad that we even have to ask it.

It’s been said that a budget is moral document, “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be.” A City’s budget should reflect the priorities of its residents. I would like to believe Grand Junction residents see the urgency in protecting tourists and preventing further injury and death on Horizon Drive, and put this as a priority over helping CMU buy another acre of land, changing the street signs on North Avenue or helping City employees chit chat with at the annual Chamber banquet.


  11 comments for “Businesses beg city to fix Horizon Drive Deathtrap; City claims “Sorry, no funds”

  1. Anne, I’d like to thank you again for this site. And the “opportunity” it provides for “communications” with “our” elected officials.

    FYI, the world’s oldest known fruitcake is 130 years old and lives under glass in a Michigan home.

  2. Just to be clear I am pressuring the city to find funds for the 3 HD crosswalks. I too believe that we should not loose another life on HD for lack of safe crossing options. We have the option of moving monies saved with the Pinnacle contract and potential additional yes revenues from the 3rd and 4th quarters.

    Most of the monies referenced above are slotted to economic development and as such are not available for road improvements. Sounds crazy I know but the same people who rail against spending monies on items when it was budgeted for something else can’t have it both ways.

    That said I believe we will find a solution to this issue in the near future…

    Chris Kennedy

    • Perhaps we could consult with Diane Schwanke’s Chamber of Commerce anonymous donor. Isn’t it nothing short of a miracle how money can always be found to do things that “certain people” in our community want done.

      That’s what I really like about the happy valley. It’s timeless. Nothing ever changes. At least as far as the little people are concerned. But then most of us already know the happy valley never had no hat size anyway.

      Now, go ahead and surprise me by viewing this post, not on content, but rather on grammar.

  3. Hey Anne, you want to see something really scary? Go park your car at Corn Lake and walk under the 32 Road bridge across the Colorado river (looking up). Or for your convenience, just give Benita Phillips a call, cause we’ve both been there and seen that. And we’re both pretty sure that the rebar was originally designed to be INSIDE the concrete.

    Or have you driven through the streets of Clifton lately? Is it just me, or do others find it strange that infrastructure repair funding always seems to run out right after they fix everything in the Redlands? Now you’re talking my language girl, keep it up. I like that.

    • Hi AP. The same thing — exposed and rusting rebar on a bridge abutment — can also be seen on the Grand Ave. bridge in town. I’ve been concerned about that myself.

      Clifton is outside City limits and is in the unincorporated county, so I believe Mesa County is the entity in charge of road and bridge repairs there. The flip side is your taxes are probably lower out there, which is something you probably like. But I’m glad you can see an upside to contributing to the betterment of your community through taxes — better services and infrastructure maintenance. I consider it a pretty good deal after living in Glade Park for 16 years, where we had few perks of civilized society (no garbage pickup, no sewer service, no drainage systems, no unending municipal water supply to our house, volunteer fire department, etc.)

      It looks like about 2/3 of the Redlands — primarily the residential and commercial areas — have been annexed to the City. That may account for why they have better maintenance out there.

      • Of course, if it were rebar sticking out of a bridge abutment, I probably wouldn’t have mentioned it. But it’s not. It’s sticking out of the pre-stressed girders that is the support for the deck or what you might think of as the roadway. Which pretty much tells me, you didn’t go and look.

        And I wouldn’t know about property taxes in Clifton. I do however know that the people of Clifton chose not to be annexed. As per Janet Rowland’s wishes. As I recall, at one of the annex community meetings that I attended, the residents of Clifton were publicly chastised from the podium by Janet Rowland who apparently felt she was not given the respect she obviously felt she was due.

        I think it was right about then that she threatened to cancel the meeting. And I felt obligated as a guest invited by Clifton residents to stand and explain that perhaps they had higher expectations. And oh, by the way, I never did collect that wager from her. But it was only five bucks, I put down on a no vote.

        And you know Anne, it’s not really paying taxes that I object to. It’s pretty much the 95% that has a habit of going to waste, fraud and abuse that makes me gird my loins, on a social security only income. Which is probably why I experience some difficulty fitting in with the old money ruling elitists of the local GOP. And of course, my membership in a Tea Party pretty much did the same thing for me with the ruling elitists of the local Dem party.

        Ah, but alas, it seems I have found a home, serving up Tea. Mo Tea anyone??

  4. The only way The City of GJ ever manages to find extra money is for direct subsidies to businesses so no use appealing on humanitarian grounds.

    The Chamber dues are small potatoes. I’ve long thought that the City, as a wholly owned subsidiary of the Chamber, could save a lot of money, or give even more away, by eliminating the management team at 2nd and 5th and formally recognize the power residing with the welfare queens at 4th and Grand.

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