Horse Gulch Blog

Watchdogging for the greater Durango area

Webb Ranch Report

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La Plata County residents looking for an alternative to CDOT’s current proposal to connect US Highway 550 to the Bridge to Nowhere at US Highway 160 can now read about it in two documents provided in this posting.

After a legally defiant 31-working day waiting period, this blogger was given a copy of comments requested from the Colorado Department of Transportation. The comments requested were those made by traffic engineers working for Chris Webb regarding the US 550/US 160 Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement. 

Requested from CDOT’s Carolyn Motzkus in a Colorado Open Records Act request made Dec. 2, 2011, the documents arrived at this blogger’s home Friday(1/13/12) despite Colorado Law stipulating a 3-day maximum waiting period for providing requested documents to the requester.

Farmington Hill would be modified to have greater solar exposure and fewer turns in it under the proposed alternatives offered by Russell Engineering, who drafted designs for Chris Webb.

Motzkus said in an email that due to a personal illness she had been out of the office and only working intermittently.

Under Colorado law, Motzkus´s abscence does not justify or equate to an extenuating circumstance for two specifically requested PDF documents that could have been provided by email after being scanned with the click of a button.

More importantly, one of the documents I received was a Webb Ranch report drafted by Russell Engineering  that lays out with technical detail how they recommend that CDOT should use the existing Farminton Hill alignment. It would be modified to make for a safer approach with broader turning angles and greater solar exposure.

In addition to the recommendations from Russell Engineering was a second file of comments by Traffic Engineer Kathleen Krager where she confronts in detail how CDOT’s 2030 Trip Report provided over-inflated traffic projections for the Grandview area. Krager works for Chris Webb. She outlines how errors were made in the Draft SEIS due to CDOT’s use of those over-inflated traffic projections.

Also, her letter describes how CDOT’s safety analysis conducted for the Draft SEIS was invalid for overstating the current dangers of the Farmington Hill grade because of a lack of reported fatalities, and an accident rate that’s less than average, according to the Safety Analysis Section for the Colorado Department of Highways.

Webb engineer’s statement on CDOT’s Draft SEIS–PDF

Webb engineer’s proposal for Farmington Hill–PDF

This blogger requested these documents from Webb and Krager, but they denied my request for arbitrary and capricious reasons. 

“At this time, these documents are under review by CDOT, and we believe that it would be unethical to share them with anyone else,” Krager said in an email. “In addition, these documents are the property of Mr. Webb.”

Actually, the copies this blogger obtained are now property of the general public since they were submitted as part of a public review process, despite Krager’s reasoning for denial.

It’s just a shame that this blogger had to pay $40 dollars for something that Mr. Webb could have provided me with for free in the first place. Such is life.

Below is a dissection of wording taken from the Colorado Open Records Act where the law specifically stipulates what constitutes a reasonable time period for agencies to respond to said request(s).

24-72-203. Public records open to inspection.

(b) The date and hour set for the inspection of records not readily available at the time of the request shall be within a reasonable time after the request. As used in this subsection (3), a “reasonable time” shall be presumed to be three working days or less. Such period may be extended if extenuating circumstances exist. However, such period of extension shall not exceed seven working days. A finding that extenuating circumstances exist shall be made in writing by the custodian and shall be provided to the person making the request within the three-day period. Extenuating circumstances shall apply only when:
(I) A broadly stated request is made that encompasses all or substantially all of a large category of records and the request is without sufficient specificity to allow the custodian reasonably to prepare or gather the records within the three-day period; or
(II) A broadly stated request is made that encompasses all or substantially all of a large category of records and the agency is unable to prepare or gather the records within the three-day period because:
(A) The agency needs to devote all or substantially all of its resources to meeting an impending deadline or period of peak demand that is either unique or not predicted to recur more frequently than once a month; or
(B) In the case of the general assembly or its staff or service agencies, the general assembly is in session; or
(III) A request involves such a large volume of records that the custodian cannot reasonably prepare or gather the records within the three-day period without substantially interfering with the custodian’s obligation to perform his or her other public service responsibilities.
(c) In no event can extenuating circumstances apply to a request that relates to a single, specifically identified document.