The Durango Herald notes the Navajo Nation OK'd necessary road, power and water line easements for Desert Rock - Sithe Global's proposed coal-fired power plant. Incrementalism.
Then there's the Colorado DOT District Engineer up there in Durango who had a bright idea to go ahead and build a new bridge to nowhere - the giant shiny new US 550 and US 160 interchange monster overpass.
But DOT doesn't own the land necessary to hook a road to the bridge so that may be a big waste of concrete. Rerouting the highway from the present Farmington Hill switchback - a feature I've always liked but which truck drivers and traffic engineers loathe - would mean crossing a historic ranch owned by someone who doesn't want to sell. Whoopsie. From the Herald below:
Further complicating the issue, (Ranch owner) Webb said, is the 2008 discovery of numerous archaeological sites dating to the ancestral Puebloan period on the property, several of which lie in the direct route of the proposed realignment.
His lawyer, Detroit attorney Thomas McNeill, said he believes CDOT was disingenuous from the beginning and intended to condemn the Webb property regardless of its historic potential, which was confirmed in August 2008 by the Washington, D.C.-based Advisory Council on Historic Preservation.
"Although CDOT representatives conducted purported cultural resource surveys on the ranch in 1995, 1998, 2002 and 2007, they missed all the other archaeological sites. (Ignacio architect and archaeologist) Doug Loebig discovered those in July 2008 at the expense of the owners of the Webb Ranch," McNeill wrote in an e-mail.
Neither McNeill nor his client backed down in an ensuing phone interview from Webb's Michigan office.
"They want to exercise eminent domain and condemn the ranch, and up until the judge ruled on Jan. 28, they intended to use that power to destroy this ranch," McNeill said.
He said much of the story has yet to be told, but everybody assumes a deal has been struck.
Negotiations between the sides on how much the 160 land is worth was halted when the legal challenge began. No rights of way have been established for the 550 reroute south, across their property.
And the Federal Highway Administration has reopened the administrative record, saying it was going to re-evaluate the project, which will take at least until 2009.
"Here they are building this bridge and ramps based on a highway that can only go through our ranch. All the projections have changed - we're in a completely different ballgame," McNeill said. "They continued to build this, knowing the feds were re-examining it, and they're taking stimulus money - (CDOT District 5 Commissioner Steve) Parker and Reynolds need to be asked some hard questions. Everything went off the table, and they're acting like it didn't."