Colorado Department of Transportation Executive Director Michael Lewis will be the featured speaker in a county-wide transportation town hall to begin at 5:30 p.m. June 28 in the Poncha Springs Town Hall. The free public meeting will present a transportation briefing for Chaffee County residents regarding the state of Colorado transportation, including the impact of funding on rural transportation projects and an overview of state highway projects in Chaffee County, including current and future projects on U.S. 50,  U.S. 285 and U.S. 24.

“Picture your life without roads, or bike ways, or buses,” said Chaffee County Transportation Board member Kate Garwood. “What would it be like if we didn’t have those things? And now that you realize how awful it would be, wouldn’t you like to plan for the future so we have good roads, good bike paths and good public transit to get around this county to work or enjoy this place?”

The town hall will include a question and answer segment, allowing county residents, businesses, and municipalities to ask questions of the executive director about current and upcoming highway projects, and provide input ranging from safety concerns about stretches of state highways, to the need for passing lanes. The evening event is free and open to the public.

Garwood, who had a long career as a transportation planner for the Minnesota Department of Transportation prior to moving to Chaffee County, points out that transportation isn’t just a car on four wheels, it’s the economic future. “My nephew has been traveling the world in southeast Asia, and he emailed me recently and said, ‘I never realized how important transportation is – the difference in the life of  a family if you live on a road where you can sell your goods —  or living where you have no access for a future.’

“I say, imagine a life without transportation – no roads, no buses, no bike paths. How would you get food or get to your job? How would you even live? The average person doesn’t stop to think about that. My gosh, this is a chance for ordinary citizens to let Executive Director Lewis know what their transportation concerns are. I always say, If you don’t plan it in, you plan it out.”

The free public town hall, scheduled from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., is sponsored by Ark Valley Voice. It will be preceded that day by a collaborative work session in Buena Vista with elected officials and public works staff from Chaffee County and the three municipalities, and the Chaffee County Economic Development Corporation. Lewis also plans to tour the site of the Cottonwood Pass (CR 306) highway project.