Durango city officials hope to improve pedestrian safety, connectivity and accessibility on Roosa Avenue between Ninth Street and El Paso Street, in part, by adding a 10-foot-wide, shared-use path.
Construction on the $1.9 million project, called Roosa Avenue Connect, is expected to start in 2023. In addition to a 10-foot-wide path along Roosa, upgrades include sidewalks compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act and safety improvements at Avenida del Sol and El Paso Street, where they connect with Roosa Avenue.
Roosa Avenue doesn’t have a sidewalk, leading to dangerous pedestrian conditions, said Amber Blake, assistant city manager.
“When (the) roads were constructed, the mindset was not necessarily for all road users,” Blake said.
The number of bicyclists and pedestrians has increased since 2009, when the improvement project was first identified through community meetings and public comment sessions held during the creation of the 2012 Multimodal Master Plan. Roosa Avenue Connect was approved by Durango City Council through its adoption of the 2012 and 2016 Multimodal Master Plans.
Between 2009 and 2017, there was an estimated increase of 441 bicyclists and pedestrians recorded at West Third Avenue and West Park Avenue, the closest recording point included in the National Bicycle and Pedestrian Database Project. The NBPD project records new data every two years, starting on a Tuesday and ending on a Saturday. Roosa Avenue Connect seeks, in part, to improve safety for those commuters by providing an additional path for bicycles and pedestrians.
Funding for Roosa Avenue Connect comes from the 2015 half-cent sales and use tax fund and a grant from the Colorado Department of Transportation, which was awarded in 2016. While the total cost of the project is budgeted to be $1.9 million, Durango has to pay $951,356 with the Transportation Alternatives Program grant covering the remaining $948,644.
The engineering and design is 95% complete; the remaining 5% will be completed when the bid for construction is advertised, said Robert Harries, chief operating officer of Goff Engineering and Surveying Inc.
The current configuration pits pedestrians against cars by forcing pedestrians to use the road.
“Obviously, this is unsafe for all road users,” said Sarah Dodson, assistant director of transportation for Durango.
While the project has received support through in-person and online public comment, some residents say it is not worth the $2 million price tag because of the existing shared-use path only yards away, referring to the Animas River Trail. Other residents have voiced concern about the design’s safety. Project engineers said they are confident in the safety of their design and that it follows federal specifications.
During its peak use, which is during the summer months, the Animas River Trail can become congested with people walking three abreast, strollers and cyclists all trying to use the existing 10-foot-wide path, said Spencer Compton, chairman of the multimodal advisory board. Compton said he has seen people forced to detour into the grass, but he mostly sees people slowing down when traffic picks up on the river trail.
Compton said Durango needs to create paths dedicated for pedestrians and cyclists to give riders and walkers more safe options.
In addition to the sidewalk, the project includes improving safety at the Avenida del Sol and El Paso Street intersections with Roosa Avenue, including crosswalks and a landing strip to slow cars coming down Avenida del Sol. The landing strip will create a gradual hill, making it easier for motorists to slow down.
The Avenida del Sol intersection is set to receive a face-lift with a new crosswalk, a new bus stop at the bottom of the hill and ADA-compliant ramps, according to the current design on Durango’s website.
The new configuration will “square up” the intersection and improve drainage, Blake said.
A new walking path will also be added for pedestrian traffic heading to the social services campus, which includes the Durango Community Shelter.
Updates to the El Paso Street intersection seek to increase pedestrian safety by redirecting where pedestrians and cyclists travel.
The El Paso Street intersection also has a landscape design proposed, which includes new boulders in planting beds. A historical sign is expected to remain where it currently sits.
The next step is for city and CDOT representatives to review the project in 2021.