-By Julia Steege-Reimann-
“Gunnison County has a reputation for working in the best interest of our communities. We strive to maintain transparency so that we can continue to deserve our constituent’s trust and pride in our government,” said Matthew Birnie, County Manager of Gunnison County, Colorado.
Indeed, data show that Gunnison County’s residents value the government’s work to make it easy to get around. Residents rate the County higher than the national benchmark on several aspects of mobility, according to The National Community Survey (The NCS).
The NCS is the gold-standard in resident opinion surveys on community livability. Gunnison County has participated in The NCS for several years, helping guide the County’s strategic planning, budgeting, and evaluation process.
“Gunnison County is very data-focused. And that focus helps them to build trust with residents and to continue to improve mobility,” said Damema Mann, Director of National Engagement at Polco.
These efforts led Gunnison to be a finalist for the Voice of the People (VOP) Awards for Excellence in Mobility. The VOP Awards are the only national award that honors local governments based on feedback from residents. The award is presented by Polco/National Research Center (NRC) and the International City & County Management Association (ICMA). This award acknowledges local governments with the highest ratings from The NCS and that take the best actions on behalf of their communities.
County leaders regularly review The NCS data to develop mobility-related goals and monitor progress for their Strategic Plan.
As a result of this strategic planning process, more airplanes land at the Gunnison-Crested Butte Regional Airport than ever before and leaders have recently completed a large paving project.
Future goals include developing an additional funding stream to support road and bridge infrastructure, construction, and maintenance; renovating the airport terminal, hard-surfacing 10 miles of roads, and building a new park.
The Public Works Department also uses The NCS data to monitor the quality of their mobility-related services. For example, they look closely at the percentage of The NCS respondents who report that snow removal services, road repair services, and availability of paths and walking trails are good or excellent. They use these data to develop their Strategic Works Department Business Plan.
One shining example of Gunnison’s commitment to quality mobility is its bus transportation.
The Gunnison Valley Rural Transportation Authority (RTA) provides ADA-accessible bus transportation at no cost to as many as 87,000 travelers each year to and from Gunnison, Crested Butte and Mt. Crested Butte.
The RTA also coordinates with the Colorado Department of Transportation and municipalities and counties along the route to create affordable bus service between Gunnison and Denver.
As leaders look towards the future, Gunnison County will continue to rely on resident voices to improve mobility in the region.
“Gunnison County will continue to honor the balance between our community’s needs and our fiduciary responsibilities so that our residents and visitors can benefit from a safe and efficient local transportation network. New potential transportation projects will be evaluated, and additional funding sources will be sought,” said Birnie.