Durango will be making one of the routes to Needham Elementary School safer for students in the new year with the help of a major grant.
The city received $292,000 through the federal Safe Routes to School Program to replace and widen sidewalks along Arroyo, Columbine and Cottonwood drives in 2015, Multi-modal Administrator Amber Blake said.
This is welcome news for Needham neighbors including Maya Kane, who lives on Columbine Drive, and hopes the project will make the area safer for everyone.
“I have been so close to feeling like we need to move because it’s dangerous,” said Kane, who has children who will soon be school age.
She said she sees cars speeding down Columbine Drive at all hours of the day, and she is concerned by several accidents at the intersection of Arroyo and Columbine in recent years.
The sidewalk construction will start at the intersection of Delwood Avenue and Arroyo Drive, and it will run east to Columbine Drive and Needham Elementary. It may extend south down Columbine Drive to San Juan Drive. A small section may also be built on the corner of school property from the middle of Cottonwood Drive to the intersection of Columbine Drive.
The city is considering a total of 2,100 feet of new sidewalk. The design work for the project will be finished over the winter, and it may incorporate some route changes to the current concept.
In addition, curb extensions at intersections may be included to help slow traffic. This idea sprung from a public meeting Dec. 8.
The city’s street department also plans to resurface Arroyo Drive from Delwood Avenue to Columbine Drive during sidewalk construction, Blake said.
The street resurfacing would bring the total cost of the project to about $560,000.
The Needham project was one of nine statewide that was selected for the grant program this year. It was a strong candidate because the sidewalk near the school is the first phase of a larger plan that will eventually create a trail over Junction Creek that will connect with Miller Middle School. This project is planned for three phases, Blake said.
“We knew this would be piecemealed together,” she said.
Kane applauded the efforts of the project because so many people use the playground at Needham throughout the year.
“My big hope is that it will slow traffic down significantly,” she said.