The lines are being drawn.
The city of Durango started painting new traffic lanes Thursday evening on Main Avenue to prepare for outdoor commerce spaces on the road – and help businesses adapt to coronavirus public health restrictions.
The Bump-Outs for Business program will help downtown restaurants and some retail shops bring in more revenue outside while social distancing occurs inside. For years, the city has imagined pedestrian-oriented alternatives for Main Avenue. In mere weeks, city staff created a way to help businesses in a turbulent time.
“This is the fastest staff has moved on a project of this size in order to move mountains to make sure we can do everything we can to keep our economy going,” said Amber Blake, Durango’s interim town manager, during a City Council study session Tuesday.
The repainting will extend from College Drive to 11th Street. The four-lane road will transform into a two-lane road with a turning lane. The outer lanes will be used for the bump-outs, street-level areas that extend 10 feet into the road from the sidewalk, which the city will start assembling Friday.
About 10 business owners on Main Avenue, like Switchback, Chimayo, Fired Up and Derailed, have requested the outdoor spaces, said Tim Walsworth, executive director of the Durango Business Improvement District. Businesses that are not on Main Avenue will have the option to use a portion of the sidewalk adjacent to their building or 25% of their parking spaces.
The bump-out program will use about 60 downtown parking spaces – a concern for businesses, Walsworth said. City staff said there are about 600 spots in the surrounding downtown area and parking is tracking at about a 40% vacancy rate.
The city, BID and Colorado Department of Transportation are discussing cost-sharing arrangements to cover expenses. To launch the program, the city, BID and partners created streamlined liquor licensing, coordinated with the CDOT, evaluated safety requirements, surveyed businesses and more.
“It’s taken an extreme amount of time,” Walsworth “I don’t even know what day it is anymore.”