ARCHIVED  January 1, 1996

Who needs Timberline extension?

One mile of road would cut a trip to the post office in half for a north Fort Collins direct-mail company.
But whether Timberline Road is a dead-end issue remains the subject of heated debate. Approved in a 1989 election, the Timberline extension that would link Prospect Road and Mulberry Street, or Summit View Drive a few blocks to the north, has become polarized.
On one side of the road are employers and business owners who say the road is a natural improvement that would ease the rush-hour crush on thecrowded College and Lemay corridors.
At the other curb are activists who worry about a large natural area along the Cache La Poudre River. They stand shoulder to shoulder with folks who say they’d prefer not to foot the bill for access to real estate development north of the Downtown Airpark.
“And then there is a large group in the middle, who haven’t made up their minds,´ said Marc Engemoen, the city of Fort Collins’ engineering manager.
Citizen Planners will host a public debate of the extension at 7 p.m. Jan. 17 at City Council chambers. On Jan. 31, the city will present the results of a comprehensive study by the Denver civil engineering firm DMJM. The report will be made during an informal open house from 4 to 7 p.m. at the Lincoln Center, followed by a formal presentation from 7 to 9 p.m.
The consultants are expected to present analysis of traffic conditions, natural resources and the Poudre flood plain, and will incorporate relevant portions of two other environmental impact assessments conducted in the 1980s. What the consultants probably won’t be able to quantify is how long Patty Taylor’s van drivers sit in traffic at the intersection of Lemay Avenue and Mulberry Street.
“My problem is that our last trip to the post office hits right during rush hour,” Taylor said.
Taylor, president of First Class Direct Inc., a direct-mail company, weekly drops as many as 150,000 pieces of mail at the main post office at Boardwalk and John F. Kennedy Parkway. To meet postal deadlines, mail must reach the bulk mail center by 5:30 p.m.
And because of the size of the deliveries – literally millions of pieces of mail each year – First Class Direct can do business only at the south post office.
Taylor said that although the Timberline extension would certainly shave time off the trip between her East Olive Court building and the post office, it would also ease the commute for the estimated 4,000 people who work near the Downtown Airpark. There is no bus service to the park, which is located in unincorporated Larimer County.
“Ask them if they are prepared to be annexed in and start paying city taxes,´ said Sarah Garey.
Garey lives in the city’s urban growth area, but in an unincorporated neighborhood off of Summit View Drive. “Some will say ‘We want the road built, but we don’t want to be annexed.’ That’s a little disingenuous, I think.”
Though she points out that the city’s master plan calls for growth to be channeled to the north, Garey said the argument for extending Timberline has illogically focused on abating traffic on Mulberry. In fact, she said, the new road will provide better access to prime residential development properties north of the airport, which would dump even more traffic on a state highway that is reportedly already at capacity.
“This isn’t a traffic solution; this is a traffic enhancer,” Garey said. “I am not anti-development, but I am anti-subsidized development. It’s not fair to force cost of development on to me,” she said.
About $5 million is already banked for the extension project, though it is unclear whether that sum will cover the cost of the road if Timberline curves beyond Mulberry to link at Summit View, Engemoen said.
And if the road does not curve into Summit View, as it was described in the original ballot initiative, it may be subject to a legal challenge. But the interest in Timberline doesn’t stop at Summit View, Garey said.
“The city council people are watching in Loveland,” Garey said. “This has the potential to go all the way to Loveland.”
Taylor said she is of a divided mind on the growth issue, lamenting the loss of the small-town feel of Fort Collins a decade ago, but admitting her business has benefitted from it. But not building Timberline is not the answer to growth woes.
“By not building Timberline, you’re not going to drive people away from settling here,” Taylor said. “I just don’t think that’s effective. I think this is an attractive place to live and think people are going to continue to move here.
“This really looks to me that this is just a little microscopic view of a big issue, and that’s the no-growth issue.”

One mile of road would cut a trip to the post office in half for a north Fort Collins direct-mail company.
But whether Timberline Road is a dead-end issue remains the subject of heated debate. Approved in a 1989 election, the Timberline extension that would link Prospect Road and Mulberry Street, or Summit View Drive a few blocks to the north, has become polarized.
On one side of the road are employers and business owners who say the road is a natural improvement that would ease the rush-hour crush on thecrowded College and Lemay corridors.
At the other curb are…

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