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City Approves Interim I-25/Highway 34 Improvements
Interim Improvement May Make Traffic Worse
Loveland - June 3, 2008

The Loveland City Council agreed to split the proposed $100,000 annual cost of maintenance with McWhinney's Metro District to
maintain landscaping improvements to the interchange of I-25 and Highway 34.  Direction was also provided to staff to explore
potentially less costly landscaping alternatives to reduce the annual maintenance costs as currently projected.

Normally, the State of Colorado (through CDOT) pays to maintain major intersections on interstate highways.  However, McWhinney
is seeking to match the branding and landscaping of the intersection with its Centerra project and therefore has proposed alternative
landscaping the State of Colorado will not agree to maintain given the higher costs involved.  The $12 million improvement to the
intersection was approved and is being paid from the extra taxes diverted to the McWhinney Metro District in Centerra.

While the City of Loveland has not asked for the specific plan, Rich Shannon of the Pinnacle Group presented the concept to the city
as a joint project that both Loveland and McWhinney will need to pay $100,000 per year to maintain.  Four of the eight councilors
present noted they didn't ask for such and attempted to pass an amendment that only natural buffalo grass be used since that is
approved by the State of Colorado for maintaining such intersections (see below for details on the vote).  Councilman Skowron
pointed to the total costs to the City of Loveland in the 15 year agreement of $750,000 for something they didn't request but using the
approved landscaping would mean CDOT could pay the maintenance costs.

Below is a summary of the $12 million "interim" improvements to be paid for from the Centerra Metro District (diverted tax dollars) to
improve the inter-change.  Councilman Skowron was interrupted by Mayor Pielin when stating he didn't want all the Loveland
taxpayers to cover the costs but before he could finish talking the Mayor told him he would have to listen to staff.  See video to the right
of this story.

What It Does - safety and ascetics

  1. Removes the current clover leaf configuration that combines oncoming traffic with exiting traffic from I-25 on the same roadway
  2. Cosmetic improvements to bridge and off-ramps to appear similar to Centerra shopping areas style
  3. Slow traffic flow by crowding 6 traffic lights within a single mile (between Centerra to Sportsman's Warehouse) - this is because
    three of the four new ramps will terminate at a traffic light governing traffic coming onto highway 34
  4. Creates two lane off-ramps and on-ramps in each direction
  5. Places the name Centerra and Loveland on signs at the off ramps

What It Doesn't Do - Alleviate traffic congestion on Highway 34 or prepare for I-25 widening

  1. Widen current bridge or alleviate the current traffic bottle neck on the over-pass
  2. Make any necessary improvements to allow for preparations of future I-25 widening
  3. Alleviate rush hour traffic bottleneck

Dave Clark, irritated by his colleague's questions on the matter, lectured them by stating;  "They put all kinds of money out
you are saying you don't want to put....its backwards we got something wrong here..."

Councilman Klassen responded, "No, Dave I think that infers we are going to trash the intersection if we don't put in additional .....we
are not going to do that."

Pielin, making the argument personal, stated "I know at least two people whose houses who....well..don't look like buffalo grass."  
Klassen jokingly responded that he hoped the Mayor wasn't referring his home.  The Mayor assured Klassen he was not as he glanced
between council members Kent Solt and Cecil Gutierrez.

Councilman Cecil Gutierrez asked a number of questions regarding the lack of improvement to the current traffic congestion in the area
and expressed concern the project didn't help to reduce the Highway 34 current problems.  A traffic engineer presenting to the counsel
stated the "we are mitigating that" in reference to the traffic congestion that will be caused by extra traffic lights planned for the

The Vote

Councilman Cecil Gutierrez offered an amendment to the motion to include the buffalo grass (a standard ground cover the State of
Colorado pays to maintain) and thus save the City of Loveland the $50,000 per year maintenance.  The motion was quickly seconded
and Council members Klassen, Skowron and Kent voted with Gutierrez in the affirmative.  The remaining four; Pielin, Clark, Heckle
and Johnson voted no.  The clerk was asked to repeat the results by the Mayor as the amendment to the motion failed on a tie 4-4
vote.  Like a desperate poker player looking to change the rules of the game when dealt a bad hand, the Mayor took actions outside
the purview of his office to prevent another tie vote that would have denied the proposed agreement approval.

Mayor Pielin, over-stepping his authority as the Chair, said he would table the vote to a future meeting until the missing council member,
Glenn Rousey, is in attendance so the vote could pass.  Under proper parliamentary procedure, the Chair cannot remove an item from
the floor after it has been introduced, seconded and discussed. Especially egregious was Pielin admitting that he would "not allow a
vote" until he knew it would pass.  The City Attorney said nothing.

Councilman Klassen then told the Mayor his assumption that those who voted for the amendment would then not vote for the motion
on the floor was incorrect.  The Mayor than asked, "If you tell me you are going to vote for this I will put the motion back on the
floor."  Of course, the motion was already on the floor and the Mayor had grossly exceeded his authority by announcing he had
removed it or tabled the motion absent any vote or even suggestion that it be removed.

Klassen assured the Mayor he would support the motion if allowed to vote -- to which the Mayor immediately called for a roll call
vote.  Surprisingly, the council voted unanimously to support the agreement with CDOT.
Ignoring parliamentary procedure, Mayor
Pielin (above) attempted to table the issue
until he could get agreement that the
measure would pass before allowing the