The busy and narrow stretch of Colorado State Highway 9 through the lower Blue River Valley will become safer for motorists thanks to an unprecedented public/private partnership forged between Grand County, the Colorado Department of Transportation and Blue Valley Ranch.
Blue Valley Ranch is making an $805,000 donation to help Grand County fund the planning and design engineering for roadway improvements to Colorado Highway 9 that will significantly decrease the number of collisions between vehicles and wildlife along the highway.
Every year, dozens of collisions occur between vehicles, deer, and elk along Highway 9 in Grand and Summit Counties through the lower Blue River Valley. The toll in human life and on wildlife is significant.
Accidents involving deer are a daily occurrence along this stretch of Highway 9. The highway bisects feeding and watering habitat used by mule deer. The mule deer forage for food east of the highway but every day must cross the road to water at the Blue River on the west side of the road.
The donation made by the Blue Valley Ranch will help Grand County pay for the final design that will result in a shovel-ready project that ultimately can be paid for with State and Federal highway funding. The Colorado Department of Transportation will provide the engineering design services. The project will improve a 10.6-mile stretch of Highway 9 through Summit and Grand Counties with underpasses designed to allow deer and elk to travel safely from one side of the highway to the other, and there will be fencing that will prevent deer and elk from moving across the road.
The project will also widen this dangerous and narrow highway which is used by vacationers from the Front Range traveling to recreation activities in Summit, Grand, Routt, and other countries in northwest Colorado. The two-lane Highway 9 is often congested with heavy traffic which creates an even higher risk of collision between vehicles and wildlife, particularly at night. The plan also envisions eight-foot-wide paved shoulders for the highway that could also accommodate bike paths.
“Grand County deeply appreciates this generous contribution from Blue Valley Ranch,” states Grand County Commissioner Gary Bumgarner. “It takes us a big step closer to making Highway 9 safer for the residents of our County and for all of the visitors who travel here.”
According to Blue Valley Ranch manager Perry Handyside, “The Grand County Commissioners and the Colorado Department of Transportation have worked hard to make the arrangements necessary to receive this donation. All of us at the ranch are grateful for their support and pleased to be able to help make Highway 9 safer.”
For more information, contact the Grand County Commissioners at 970-725-3347.