Seeing Your Tax Dollars at Work with Martin Marietta

(7-10-16)

Sarah MacQuiddy, The Tribune
Greeley Chamber of Commerce President
Read the entire article.

I’m so excited to tell you about my first “On assignment with the Chamber President!”

Thank you to our friends at Martin Marietta, who graciously agreed to let me learn first-hand about their company. I chose Martin Marietta as my first assignment to see how our local tax dollars are working. I was curious how things were going since last November, when Greeley voters overwhelming supported the 2A and 2B tax measures to help improve our local roads.

The day included watching the recipes for ready mix concrete and asphalt. Did you know that they are blended according to customer contract specifications? Once the ready mix was tested, we drove the mixer truck to a site at 8th Avenue and 12th Street. I have always wondered how long the “mix” is good as it travels down the road. Ninety minutes in the drum is the answer. My guess is that if something were to happen, a mighty fine boat anchor for an ocean freight-liner would result.

Heading over in the mixer truck to the site, I watched the driver use the remote control for the mixer with which he has the ability to slow or speed up the rotation. He not only has to have a CDL, but also needs to know about operating the computer. The mixer truck poured concrete at 8th Avenue and 12th Street; I noted how carefully the driver backed up the truck to assure that the ready mix was properly placed to avoid waste and to help those spreading, leveling and smoothing — not just dumping it in a pile.

While we were there, I had the opportunity to see a “tug-at-your-heart-strings” incident. Two visually impaired individuals were walking down the sidewalk and came upon the construction. Quickly, one of the Martin Marietta crew saw them and escorted them around the construction work area and safely down the sidewalk. That speaks volumes to the corporate culture that exists at Martin Marietta — do what needs to be done to keep everyone safe.

There are more than 80 projects sourced out of the Greeley Plant — from driveways to improvements along 8th Avenue, the city of Greeley overlay and patching contracts, 20th Street rehab and resurfacing 10 miles of Colo. 392 east of Lucerne.

The asphalt work on Colo. 392 — let me say — is one hot job. The belly dump truck drops a load that is about 300 degrees. I gained a whole new understanding and appreciation for the road crews. Standing in the middle of the highway with traffic (from cars to semis) whizzing by gives one a real appreciation to the campaign of “Give ’em a Brake!”

I hadn’t thought about Martin Marietta being big in the recycling arena; how wrong I was. The asphalt they pulled up gets ground up and used for shoulder work as well as being reintroduced into the new asphalt that is being placed. That’s a much better use than to send it to the landfill. The plant location on 35th Avenue is clean and well maintained. In two years, that site will probably be reclaimed and will most likely become water retention ponds.

Martin Marietta took ownership of the plant from Lafarge in 2011; they have been good community partners and awarded national recognition for their environmental efforts. They’ve also been accident free for 20 years. Safety, product quality and customer service are their top priorities. They not only talk the talk — Martin Marietta also walks the walk.

Sarah MacQuiddy is the president of the Greeley Chamber of Commerce.

Martin Marietta Moving Forward with Highway 34 Project

(10-05-2015)

With Weld County’s issuance of the Resolution and Hearing Certificate for Use by Special Review (USR) permit for the Martin Marietta Highway 34 site, the company is taking steps to move forward with the project.

After a combined 30 hours of testimony during the Weld County Planning Commission and Board of County Commissioner meetings, the Commissioners approved the USR application on August 12, 2015. The County issued the resolution on September 27, 2015, which included 42 development standards and more than 30 conditions of approval. The Resolution addresses issues including hours of operation, lighting, landscaping, air quality, noise, road maintenance, haul routes and traffic improvements.

In the Resolution, the Board of County Commissioners noted the plan is consistent with the County’s Land Use Code and the agricultural zoning district and that it will be compatible with surrounding land uses and future land development.

The Resolution also stated, “The applicant has demonstrated a diligent effort to conserve prime agricultural land in the locational decision for the proposed use. The Design Standards, Operation Standards, Conditions of Approval, and Development Standards ensure that there are adequate provisions for the protection of health, safety, and welfare of inhabitants of the neighborhood and County.”

“The Weld County Commissioners approval was contingent upon a considerable number of modifications to our project and strict conditions that will be protective of the public and the environment,” said David Hagerman, regional vice president Martin Marietta. “These are very costly modifications to our project, but they will make this site even more compatible with our neighbors and we believe that it is money well spent.”

Martin Marietta will continue with planning for construction despite litigation filed against the County by eight residents and businesses near the site. Martin Marietta is moving ahead with fulfilling requirements outlined in the Resolution that are necessary to complete prior to recording the USR plat map. These matters include an Improvements and Road Maintenance Agreement, Final Drainage Report and number of other requirements.

More than 80 people representing Weld County businesses, residents, representatives of local economic development groups, construction associations and others spoke in favor of the project at the August hearing and pointed to the need for more aggregate in northern Colorado. While sand is in ample supply in northern Colorado, the supply of coarse aggregate product (rock) in the area is almost depleted. The coarse aggregate product is needed to make concrete and asphalt, construction products that are essential to meet the area’s needs for roads and construction of businesses and homes.

The Martin Marietta Highway 34 site is uniquely located in close proximity to rail and major highways while being centrally located within one of the fastest-growing areas commercial areas in the State. In addition, it was determined that traffic generated from the facility will have the lowest impact on County roads and residents compared to other potential sites.

In an August 15 editorial, the Greeley Tribune reversed its previous stance and voiced support for the project emphasizing that the system worked and the County’s approval was a sound decision. “The process worked exactly as it should,” the editorial noted. “After nearly 30 hours, no one can legitimately say they didn’t have a chance to speak their minds… We’re thankful the commissioners – county commissioners and planning commissioners – spent so much time listening and delving so deeply into this issue. It was time well spent.”

Weld asphalt plant a go despite lawsuit

(10-05-2015)

Dallas Heltzell, BizWest
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GREELEY — Despite a lawsuit filed last month by eight residents and businesses near the Weld-Larimer county line, Martin Marietta Materials Inc. says it is going ahead with plans to build a $20 million asphalt plant near U.S. Highway 34 west of Greeley.

An architectural rendering shows Martin Marietta Materials Inc.’s proposed asphalt and ready-mix plant in unincorporated Weld County. The plant would include a rail spur that would connect to the Union Pacific Railroad by which raw materials would be transported to the plant. Courtesy Martin Marietta Materials Inc.

An architectural rendering shows Martin Marietta Materials Inc.’s proposed asphalt and ready-mix plant in unincorporated Weld County. The plant would include a rail spur that would connect to the Union Pacific Railroad by which raw materials would be transported to the plant. Courtesy Martin Marietta Materials Inc.

The Weld County Planning Commission had voted 4-3 in July to recommend that the proposal be denied, but were overruled by a unanimous vote of Weld County Commissioners after a lengthy public hearing on Aug. 12. The commissioners issued a “Resolution and Hearing Certificate for Use by Special Review” permit on Sept. 27, which included 42 development standards and more than 30 conditions of approval, including hours of operation, lighting, landscaping, air quality, noise, road maintenance, haul routes and traffic improvements.

“The Weld County commissioners’ approval was contingent upon a considerable number of modifications to our project and strict conditions that will be protective of the public and the environment,” said David Hagerman, regional vice president of Raleigh, N.C.-based Martin Marietta (NYSE: MLM), in a media statement issued Monday. “These are very costly modifications to our project, but they will make this site even more compatible with our neighbors, and we believe that it is money well spent.”

Martin Marietta wants to build the facility on a 133-acre site near the Indianhead Estates residential subdivision a half-mile south of U.S. 34 in unincorporated Weld County, near the Weld-Larimer county line. It plans to lease the property from its owner, Gerrard Investments LLC.

Rock from a quarry in Wyoming would be brought to the plant by the Union Pacific Railroad and unloaded from a rail spur.

“While sand is in ample supply in Northern Colorado, the supply of coarse aggregate product (rock) in the area is almost depleted,” the Martin Marietta statement said. “The coarse aggregate product is needed to make concrete and asphalt, construction products that are essential to meet the area’s needs for roads and construction of businesses and homes.

“The Martin Marietta Highway 34 site is uniquely located in close proximity to rail and major highways while being centrally located within one of the fastest-growing commercial areas in the State.  In addition, it was determined that traffic generated from the facility will have the lowest impact on county roads and residents compared to other potential sites.”

The company statement noted that Weld commissioners had deemed the plan “consistent with the County’s Land Use Code and the agricultural zoning district and that it will be compatible with surrounding land uses and future land development. The resolution also stated that ‘the applicant has demonstrated a diligent effort to conserve prime agricultural land in the locational decision for the proposed use. The design standards, operation standards, conditions of approval, and development standards ensure that there are adequate provisions for the protection of health, safety, and welfare of inhabitants of the neighborhood and county.”

The commissioners’ resolution ran counter to the determination of the Weld planning commission, which had found the project to be incompatible with nearby residential and agricultural uses. Planning officials from Greeley, Johnstown and Windsor also had said the facility didn’t conform to long-range plans for the U.S. 34 corridor.

Property owners in the area have been working to stop the plan since learning of it early this year. Their appeal, filed in District Court in September, claims that the plant “violates existing zoning laws, fails to protect the health and safety of surrounding residents, and ignores the community’s near-universal opposition,” according to a media release. Neighbors also have cited concerns about pollution, traffic and lowered property values.

The CLR-34 Neighborhoods Association is soliciting donations on its website to help the eight litigants with their legal fees.

Martin Marietta moves ahead on concrete-asphalt facility east of Loveland

(10-05-2015)

Craig Young, Reporter-Herald
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Neighbors’ lawsuit against Weld County commissioners is pending

Martin Marietta Materials is moving ahead in the process to build a concrete and asphalt facility east of Loveland, despite a pending lawsuit over the project.

In a statement released Monday, the company said it is working to fulfill requirements imposed by Weld County, including an improvements and road maintenance agreement, final drainage report and other conditions.

Martin Marietta vice president David Hagerman said by email that actual site work could begin early next year.

The Weld County commissioners unanimously approved the hotly contested proposal Aug. 12. The county Planning Commission and planning staff had earlier recommended denial.

Martin Marietta sought a use by special review permit to build a ready-mix concrete plant, an asphalt plant, aggregate-processing facility and rail loop on 133 acres of leased agricultural land south of U.S. 34 and east of Weld County Road 13.

Residents of the area fought the proposal, citing concerns about health effects from dust, the smell of asphalt, the impact of 1,000 to 2,000 truck trips a day, noise and visual impact.

Eight neighbors filed a lawsuit last month against Weld County, seeking a reversal of the commissioners’ approval and a declaration that the company’s proposed use is unlawful.

According to Monday’s release from Martin Marietta Materials, the county issued a resolution and hearing certificate for use by special review Sept. 27. The resolution contains dozens of development standards and conditions of approval.

Those conditions “will be protective of the public and the environment,” Hagerman said in the release.

“These are very costly modifications to our project, but they will make this site even more compatible with our neighbors, and we believe that it is money well spent,” he said.

Hagerman said the ready-mix concrete plant will start operating in mid- to late 2016, and rail shipments won’t begin until late 2016. The asphalt plant is expected to be operational in 2017, he said.

Martin Marietta to move forward with U.S. 34 location

(10-05-2015)

Kevin Duggan, Coloradoan
Read the entire article.

Despite litigation from angry neighbors, asphalt and concrete producer Martin Marietta Materials announced it will move forward with its proposed facility off U.S. 34 west of Greeley, according to a news release.

The Board of Weld County Commissioners approved in August the company’s permit to build the $20 million facility off U.S. 34 and Weld County Road 13 after officials heard 30 hours of testimony from company representatives and residents.

About a month later, eight residents who live near the site filed a 51-page complaint in Weld District Court. They accused the commissioners of making an arbitrary decision to approve the plant, which they said is not allowed under county code and was not based on a review of the available evidence. This kind of lawsuit is treated like an appeal, said Weld County Attorney Bruce Barker. During an appeal, someone takes the verdict to a higher court for a second opinion. That’s what the residents are doing with the commissioners’ decision.

These lawsuits don’t legally prevent the company from continuing its planning or even beginning construction, Barker said. For that to happen, the residents would have to go to the court and ask for a stay, which is a mandate to hold off until a given time, such as the end of the trial.

“It doesn’t just happen automatically,” Barker said. “So far, I haven’t seen anything they’ve filed asking for a stay.”

Company representatives aren’t worried about the lawsuits, said David Hagerman, the company’s vice president of aggregates and a spokesman for the project.

“We’re confident in the decision the Weld County commissioners ultimately came to,” he said. “We’re moving forward with the engineering and all the other requirements needed to bring that site online.”

The company requires more planning before construction, partly because the commissioners passed a resolution assigning 42 development standards and more than 30 conditions of approval. Their rules address issues including hours of operation, lighting, landscaping, air quality, noise, road maintenance, haul routes and traffic improvements.

Martin Marietta also will move ahead with required paperwork, including an improvements and road maintenance agreement, a final drainage report and a number of other requirements.

Touch-A-Truck Program in Greely, CO

(7-10-2015)

Martin Marietta was invited to participate in the “Touch A Truck” program for the Farr Library in Greeley, Colorado June 24. The event, open to the public, was for children and families to experience and touch a ready mix truck. Charles “Chuck” Carney, Martin Marietta Driver, along with Bernie Lucero, Martin Marietta Sales, were excited to share with attendees how to operate a mixer truck and what materials it provides in their community. They handed out plastic hard hats to the children as a way to remember their experience at the “Touch A Truck” program.

touch-a-truck-thank-you

Ride Your Bike to Work Day is a Huge
Success (and tons of fun!)

(6-24-2015)

Wednesday, June 24, in Fort Collins, Colorado there was a celebration dedicated to the statewide recognized event, “Summer Bike to Work Day.” Martin Marietta sponsored a work station at the event, which was coordinated locally by the City of Fort Collins. The bike station was setup at the round-a-bout at Vine and Taft Hill just south of the Martin Marietta Taft Hill location by the Martin Marietta Safety Committee. The station provided breakfast, refreshments, “Be Safe, Be Seen” bike lights, bike route maps and two coloring books: The Aggregates Industry and You and Learning About Mining Sand.

Colorado Bike Month
Summer Bike Day
Bike to Work
Bike to Work


Battle Continues Over Plan for Asphalt Plant

(5-29-2015)

Doug Storum, BizWest
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Neighbors fear noise, dust, odors will devalue their homes

A controversial asphalt and concrete plant proposed in unincorporated Weld County will go back before residents of the nearby 125-home Indianhead Estates neighborhood in June for more review, as both sides in the battle vow to continue what already is a five-month fight.

Martin Marietta Materials Inc. (NYSE: MLM) plans to invest an estimated $20 million in developing the 133-acre site at 27486 Weld County Road 13, near the Larimer/Weld border, that would produce asphalt and ready-mix concrete, have an aggregates sales yard and a rail-spur unloading facility to bring in raw materials.

mmwhy34-britney-guggisberg

Plant manager Britney Guggisberg looks over the sand- and gravel-crushing and wash-plant operations at Martin Marietta Materials Inc.’s asphalt and ready-mix concrete plant in Greeley on May 18. Martin Marietta is proposing to build a similar plant in unincorporated Weld County one-half mile south of U.S. Highway 34 near the border of Larimer and Weld counties. The proposal has drawn the ire of residents of the nearby Indianhead Estates neighborhood. Joel Blocker/For BizWest

Dave Kisker, a spokesman for the residents, said the heavy industrial use is a bad fit for the neighborhood because it will create more traffic congestion, train traffic, noise, dust and odor pollution, health hazards and disruption of wildlife in the area.

asphalt_gfx

Scott Fenton, a homeowner in the neighborhood for 11 years, questioned the site selection during a meeting with Martin Marietta in January.

“I cannot believe your company has the gall to suggest, let alone build, an industrial plant that is practically on top of this neighborhood,” Fenton said. “With literally hundreds or thousands of acres in Weld County, why do you need to build this plant on top of a neighborhood that has been here since 1978? Your proposal is an assault on our home values and lives. How would you feel if some company built this plant in your backyard?”

Kisker is president of CLR-34 Neighborhoods Association, which represents about 300 people living in the area and initially was formed to advocate for less traffic congestion along U.S. Highway 34, which is one-half mile north of the proposed site. The group is raising funds through its website to challenge Martin Marietta’s proposal. Within the first week it raised $3,000, Kisker said.

“I don’t see how this project can be compatible with our neighborhood,” Kisker said. “This is not like people who buy or build a home near an airport and then complain about the noise. This neighborhood was here first. They (Martin Marietta) should be able to find another location.”

An architectural rendering shows Martin Marietta Materials Inc.’s proposed asphalt and ready-mix plant in unincorporated Weld County. The plant would include a rail spur that would connect to the Union Pacific Railroad by which raw materials would be transported to the plant. Courtesy Martin Marietta Materials Inc.

martinMarietta2

An architectural rendering shows Martin Marietta Materials Inc.’s proposed asphalt and ready-mix plant in unincorporated Weld County. The plant would include a rail spur that would connect to the Union Pacific Railroad by which raw materials would be transported to the plant. Courtesy Martin Marietta Materials Inc.

Joel Blocker / ForBizWest  A southern view from the top of the asphalt silos looking down on Martin Marietta’s asphalt operations on May 18, in Greeley.

A view of Martin Marietta Materials Inc.’s asphalt production operations in Greeley from an asphalt storage silo. Martin Marietta is proposing a similar plant on 133 acres in unincorporated Weld County south of U.S. Highway 34 near the border of Larimer and Weld counties. Joel Blocker/For BizWest

David Hagerman, regional vice president and general manager of Martin Marietta’s Rocky Mountain Division, said 12 sites were studied, and this had the necessary elements as well as a central location to serve the growing Northern Colorado region with building materials for roads, homes and commercial buildings.

“This site met our requirements of being near a railroad. It has access to a highway system, it is large enough for the plants, and it doesn’t require trucks crossing through school zones,” he said.

Hagerman said its proximity to the Union Pacific and Great Western railroads will help Martin Marietta transport raw materials to the plant from its quarry in Wyoming, and its proximity to Interstate 25 and U.S. 34 will provide quick access to deliver finished materials by truck.

Hagerman said two to three trains will run per week, each with approximately 115 cars and four engines. They will be brought into the rail spur from the southeast.

“One train carries the equivalent of 400 truckloads,” he said.

The Raleigh, N.C.-based company’s Rocky Mountain Division has manufacturing plants in Greeley, Fort Collins and sales yards in Berthoud and Longmont. Companywide, its operations span 32 states, Canada and the Caribbean.

Hagerman said the plans are being revised to address concerns expressed at the neighborhood meeting in January. The company will hold another neighborhood meeting in June before the plan is submitted to the Weld County planning department July 21. It is scheduled to go before the Weld County commissioners Aug. 12.

“We are adding berms around and within the operation to address noise and visual concerns,” Hagerman said. “Additional noise controls will be added within the asphalt plant, and we will use vertical tanks at the asphalt plant to reduce chemical odors.

“We will work with the Colorado Department of Transportation to improve the intersection of U.S. 34 and Weld County Road 13 to alleviate traffic congestion,” he said, adding that primary and secondary accesses to the plant will be from Weld County Road 13, which is on the west side of the property. The neighborhood is on the northeast side.

The plant is to come online in phases, with the ready-mix concrete plant scheduled to be operational in 2016, the rail looping connections on plant property connecting to the Union Pacific in late 2016 or 2017, and the asphalt plant in 2017. Once up and running, Hagerman projects the plant will produce 2 million tons of building material per year.

Because raw material supplies, mainly rock, have been depleted in the region, Hagerman said, they must be imported from surrounding mines. He said Martin Marietta’s operations will help reduce long-term construction costs and truck traffic by bringing in raw materials by rail to a central distribution point.

The Home Builders Association of Northern Coloradoi, which represents all segments of the residential building industry in Fort Collins, Loveland, Greeley, Windsor and surrounding areas, supports the project. Greg Miedema, executive director of the association, said the project ultimately will help keep new home prices down because it will keep material costs down for foundations and roads.

“We don’t want to diminish the concerns of the neighborhood,” he said, “but frankly, that land is not good for much else … it’s between two rail tracks. I think what they (Martin Marietta) plan to do could diminish the impacts of existing rail traffic that runs by the neighborhood. … By choosing this particular parcel of land it won’t take a prime property out of circulation for future retail and home construction.”

A land deal must be completed before the plan can move forward. The property now is in two parcels, with 50 acres owned by Gerrard Construction and 83 by an investment group in Texas. Gerrard has the 83-acre parcel under contract, and plans to lease both parcels to Martin Marietta. The larger parcel would have to be rezoned from agricultural to industrial use.

Martin Marietta estimates property tax and sales tax generated by the project during the first 10 years is is approximately $36 million.

Gravel Pits Find New Life as Water Storage

(5-18-2015)

Kevin Duggan, Coloradoan
Read the entire article.

Tranquil ponds lining the Cache la Poudre River around Fort Collins that attract many people for fishing, walking and wildlife watching are not what they appear to be.

The bodies of water once were strip mines where excavators and bulldozers roamed, pulling up rich deposits of gravel, sand and river rock. Noisy crushing machines sorted out the materials, which went toward building roads, bridges and buildings and decorating gardens.

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In their wake, the mining operations left behind deep, gaping pits in the Poudre Valley landscape that over time were transformed into water-storage vessels and “natural” areas.

“There is not a natural lake on the Poudre,” said Rob Helmick, a senior planner with Larimer County. “All of those areas have been mined at some point. In many cases, it happened decades ago.”

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A review of aerial photos of the river between Laporte and the Larimer/Weld county line near Windsor showed at least 30 permitted gravel-mining sites and about 70 ponds of various shapes and sizes, Helmick said. Many of the pits likely predate state and county regulations on gravel-mining operations.

A state law passed in 1977 put an end to the practice of abandoning spent gravel pits by requiring reclamation of mining sites, said Tony Waldron, mineral program manager with the Colorado Division of Reclamation, Mining and Safety.

“It used to be a rape-and-escape mentality,” he said. “Operators moved on and left the mines behind.”

Today, an operator must post a bond with the state that is returned only after reclamation work, such as grading and planting native plants to re-vegetate a site, is completed and the permit closed.

The reclamation and treatment a pit receives depends upon its next use. The complexities of state law on water ownership also come into play.

Digging deep

Active gravel mining has gone on near the Poudre on both sides of North Taft Hill Road since at least the 1970s. The names to the operators have changed over the years — Sterling, Western Mobile, Flatirons, LaFarge, Martin Marietta — but the products have remained the same, even as demand ebbs and flows with the economy.

Martin Marietta Materials currently holds permits to mine multiple sites around the area. The company has a crushing and processing plant on the west side of Taft Hill Road and an asphalt plant on the east side of the road.

The largest permitted area is the 381-acre Home Office Pit, which runs on both sides of the the river and Taft Hill Road and has several components, said Britney Guggisberg, district engineer with Martin Marietta.

After 10 years of mining, the company is wrapping up work on the Overland Ponds project, which stretches across 151 acres between Taft Hill Road and Overland Trail.

The popular Poudre River Trail runs along the north edge of site. Conveyor belts used to move material 3,500 feet from a mining area to the processing plant are readily visible from the trail.

Martin Marietta leased the mining sites from five separate property owners. The final product will be five ponds providing a total of about 1,600 acre feet of water. An acre-foot is a measure roughly equal to the amount it would take to cover a football field with one foot of water.

Three of the ponds have been sold to a partnership involving the city of Greeley and the Fort Collins-Loveland, East Larimer County, and North Weld County water districts for water storage. The remaining ponds also are expected to be bought by the partnership.

Water will flow into the pits from irrigation ditches on which the districts and Greeley own shares. Greeley intends to use its water to augment return flows to the Poudre as required by state law, said Burt Knight, director of the city’s Water and Sewer Department.

The water districts, which are known as the Tri-Districts, operate a joint treatment plant at Soldier Canyon Dam on Horsetooth Reservoir. The Tri-Districts plan to store water in the ponds that could be pumped to the treatment facility through the Pleasant Valley Pipeline, said Mike DiTullio, general manager of the Fort Collins-Loveland Water District.

The water volumes may be small compared to large reservoirs, but they matter to the districts, he said. The partnership expects to spend about $17 million on the project.

“We don’t have the return-flow obligations that Greeley has, so we are going for storage,” DiTullio said. “Every little bit helps. And it’s a natural use for those pits.”

State water law requires water managers to account for where their water comes from and where it goes, including evaporation. The pits are lined with clay or have “slurry walls” built around them to keep groundwater out of the facilities.

The state’s permitting process and testing requirements have strict standards, including the slope of a pit, Guggisberg said.

“It depends on what the state dictates to the user, in this case Martin Marietta,” Guggisberg said. “Not all mined vessels are water-storage vessels.”

Change of use

A mined-out gravel pit once was considered a liability by property owners, Waldron said. The pits were sold for low prices or given away to municipalities and counties to use as natural areas.

Attitudes started to change in the 1990s when water storage became a statewide issue and major reservoir projects, such as Two Forks Dam proposed west of Denver, became increasingly difficult and expensive to build.

A law passed in 1981 requiring owners of unlined pits that were connected to groundwater flow to account for evaporation and replace the lost water by was another complication.

Former pits became a viable way to store and release water to meet state regulations for augmenting water lost to evaporation, said Mark Sears, natural areas manager with Fort Collins. Being able to return water to the Poudre motivated the city’s Natural Resources Department to partner with Fort Collins Utilities to build Rigden Reservoir off East Horsetooth Road.

Some ponds are stocked for fishing by the Colorado Division of Wildlife and Parks. The river areas are highly popular, Sears said.

“Just from their scenic value, the river natural areas are great,” he said. “And they are wonderful habitat, especially around the edges, for a variety of species.”

During a recent visit to Riverbend Ponds Natural Area off Prospect Road, birds sang loudly through the whoosh of nearby traffic.

But the former pits have challenges as well, Sears said. Meeting the state’s requirements for augmentation takes constant, diligent work by “a lot of sharp engineers and a lot of highly-qualified and specialized attorneys,” he said.

In recent years, the city has been involved in a project geared at removing sections of riverbank next to old pits to better connect the river to its natural floodplain. Restoration work has been done at the North Shields Ponds and McMurry natural areas, with more planned a Kingfisher Point.

The work improves habitat even as it reduces surface areas of some ponds, and thus reduces the city’s liability for augmenting evaporation losses, Sears said.

Turning pits into natural areas is a combination of careful engineering, grading and planting and nature itself, Sears said.

“It’s pretty amazing what can happen around a lot of water,” he said. “Vegetation comes back very quickly.”

Wildlife is starting to return the Overland Ponds area, which will be closed to the public because it is being used for water storage. More is expected as the ponds fill up.

Martin Marietta is moving its mining operations north of Overland Ponds to the other side of the Poudre in anticipation of completing the project later this year. The site is known for the high quality and coarseness of its material, Guggisberg said.

“It’s a really great deposit for Martin Marietta,” she said. “We are fortunate to be able to mine this and have a great finished product of water storage at the end of the day.”

Mobile users, view a map of the gravel pits-turned-ponds here.

Kevin Duggan is a Coloradoan senior reporter covering local government. Follow him on Twitter, @coloradoan_dugg.

By the numbers

Annual figures for the gravel, sand and stone-mining industry:

17.5 million – Tons of stone, gravel and sand produced in Colorado

47.7 million – Tons of aggregate, which can include sand, gravel and pebbles, consumed in Colorado

1,600 – Direct jobs in the aggregate business

70,000 – Indirect jobs, including construction

2 billion – Tons of aggregate produced in the United States

Source: Colorado Stone, Sand and Gravel Association

From the pits

These are city of Fort Collins Natural Areas along the Poudre River with ponds that are remnants of gravel-mining operations, along with when land for the areas was acquired. Some areas involved several acquisitions:

North Shields Ponds, 1962 and 2014

Magpie Meander, 1995 and 2015

McMurry, 1998 by Larimer County; 2003 by the city

Udall, 1994

Kingfisher Point, 1979 to 2015

Cattail Chorus, 1985 and 1997

Riverbend Ponds, 1977 to 1999

Prospect Ponds, 1974 (owned by Fort Collins Utilities)

Cottonwood Hollow, 1995 to 1998

Running Deer, 1998 to 2014

Arapaho Bend, 1995 to 2014

Shields Pit, which will soon be renamed, 2014

Giving back when Natural Disaster Strikes

(09-13-2014)

When natural disaster takes their toll, Martin Marietta’s Rocky Mountain Division has provided significant support for the communities in which it operates.

Rebuilding after the Hyde Park Fire
In 2012, a forest fire sparked by a lightning strike set the area near Fort Collins, Colo. ablaze. The devastating fire burned more than 87,000 acres and destroyed 259 homes, making it the third most destructive fire in Colorado’s recorded history

Whale Rock Bridge, previously a wooden bridge that was the entrance to a subdivision west of Fort Collins, was burned entirely after the fire swept through. The Rocky Mountain Division donated 10 yards of concrete, the division contributed to the new bridge by supplying fire resistance materials, making it safer and sturdier for residents in the future.

Much Work to Be Done After a 1,000 Year Flood Event
After unseasonably heavy rain in mid-September 2013, flood conditions erupted throughout Colorado as excess water saturated the ground, leaving it with nowhere to go. The flooded area was massive, with 17 counties affected. Approximately 1,500 homes were destroyed, 17,000 damaged and more than 11,000 people had to be evacuated. More than 200 miles of state-owned highways, as well as many bridges, roads and other infrastructure were damaged.

Martin Marietta donated materials to help people get around immediately after the incident. They donated 27 concrete blocks for temporary bridges on Fish Creek and product to restore Highway 34, one of two main roads into the area, for recovery in the city of Estes Park. The Specialty Aggregates district also provided more than 30,000 tons of rip rap to Union Pacific and Jefferson County to fix canyons, rail lines and access roads.

Similarly, the Rocky Mountain Division aided the West Fort Collins Water District by offering supplies and equipment to repair a vital water supply line; providing a bull dozer and numerous loaders and graders. Also, the Division aided in finding the cause of the broken line: a breach in a nearby silt pond. Martin Marietta donated concrete to repair the breach, and utilized their dewatering pumps to remove water to access the broken water line.

>>Download November 2013 Highlights PDF


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