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Cortez City Council Approves Courthouse Plan Despite Questions Over Traffic Safety

Austin Cope

The Cortez City Council gave approval Tuesday to an amended site plan for the new Montezuma County combined courthouse, following a lengthy discussion about the safety of one driveway.

The council had approved the site plan on April 12th, but the county then scaled back and redesigned aspects of the project to keep it within budget. The courthouse shows an access from Driscoll Street on the north and another near the Driscoll-Park Street intersection on the east. City engineers insisted that second location would not allow enough sight distance for vehicles coming around a curve from the sheriff’s office to the west, especially when leaving the sheriff’s office at high speeds in emergencies. They wanted the driveway to be moved further south on Park. On August 2nd, the Planning Commission approved the new site plan contingent on the drive being moved. But owner’s rep Monty Guiles told the council moving the driveway 240 feet would cost up to $50,000. Guiles said the $8.2 million project is already two or three months behind schedule and further delays might jeopardize a grant from the 22nd Judicial District to pay for furniture. Mayor Karen Sheek voiced dismay over the fact that the county has reduced its landscaping, cutting trees from 126 to 81 and the number of shrubs in half.  However, ultimately the council voted 7 to 0 to approve the county’s plan without requiring the driveway be moved.

Gail Binkly is a career journalist who has worked for the Colorado Springs Gazette and Cortez Journal, and was the editor of the Four Corners Free Press, based in Cortez.
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