Transit has always been a challenge for Western Colorado. The small population centers do not always produce enough demand for private sector solutions. With improved fuel economy in newer vehicles, resources dwindle from the public sector. Also, the large distances between municipalities present challenges for an increasingly mobile, commuting workforce.

These are the challenges that Karla Distel will face during her time at the new Regional Transit Coordinator for Region 10.  This is a new, one-year, grant-funded, contracted position, designed to bring together stakeholders and resources for the improvement and development of transit opportunities within our region. The funding for this position was provided by Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT). “I’m just here for the short burst of energy to help get everybody together, so the existing partnerships can continue to flourish,” Distel explains.

Distel joins Region 10 with nearly 30 years of experience in local government. As a Fort Lewis graduate, her fondness for Durango influenced her to begin working in the Finance Department for La Plata County. During her extensive tenure with the county, she rose to the ranks of Director of Finance. Her transit-related experience includes involvement in projects such as the county’s senior service and transit program, Durango’s in-town transit route, and Southern Ute Community Action Program’s (SUCAP) Road Runner program – all of which will serve her well in her new post. She also worked closely with the La Plata County Road and Bridge Department, providing prudent financial analysis and projections that met the department’s strategic goals. Before retiring, she also served a two year stint as the CFO for the Grand Junction Housing Authority. She started her own consulting business, Distel Consulting LCC, to stay busy during retirement.

“I’m just here for the short burst of energy to help get everybody together, so the existing partnerships can continue to flourish.”

Distel will hit the ground running with a number of transit-related projects already set in motion. Region 10 recently contracted with Felsburg Holt & Ullevig to design a strategic implementation plan for the region. The goal of the plan is to develop cost-effective solutions for transit in the six-county region, such as ridesharing, volunteer programs, and public-private partnerships. The plan will present plausible action steps, complete with funding options to make them a reality. The kickoff meeting with FHU takes place on April 9th at the Region 10 office (300 N. Cascade, Suite 1, Montrose) from 2-4 pm.

In addition to securing funding, one of the job’s core responsibilities is the facilitation of stakeholder relationships within the region. There are many ongoing efforts throughout our region already working individually, and Distel will work on bringing all of that information together.

“What a great opportunity to collaborate and make the most of the dollars that we have available,” Distel proclaims. Distel will also be responsible for coordinating with the region’s numerous transit advisory committees. Many communities like Ouray, San Miguel, and Montrose Counties already house existing volunteer groups dedicated to transit coordination.

If you are interested in learning more or becoming engaged in the transit conversation, Distel can be reached by email (karla@distelconsulting.com) or phone (970.799.4419).