GMF evacuation routes cleared

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As severe drought slams up against predictions of dangerous rainstorms, the town of Green Mountain Falls is vulnerable to both. With funds from an anonymous donor, the public works department is removing barriers in the town’s right-of-ways.

“The whole point is to make the roadways safe, safety devices visible and access to hydrants better,” said Rob McArthur, the department’s director. “We’re just fortunate to have the funds to be able to do this.”

The project gets into full swing June 4, beginning with the roads on the east side of town and gradually moving west to finally mitigate every road in a three-year project.

While last year’s week-long evacuation during the Waldo Canyon Fire was successful, this project is designed to make the ingress-egress routes safer and more effective for the police and fire departments, McArthur said.

“If emergency response vehicles can get where they need to go, so can everybody else,” he said. “That’s always been our priority, whether it’s tree mitigation, dirt work or snow plowing, with the residual benefits for the residents and taxpayers.”

There’s a two-fold benefit to the project. “This is a way for us to put some kids to work, to use that energy and effort for the betterment of the community,” McArthur said. “We’re hiring college kids who are local, some who graduated from Manitou Springs High School.”

To ensure adherence to forestry regulations, Jinnie Grigsby, the town’s forestry technician, is overseeing the project. “If we have to limb-out a tree she’ll be there to make sure it’s done properly,” McArthur said.

Quizzed for the identity of the donor, McArthur said, “It’s an organization that is very much interested in the wellbeing of the region.”