Better sidewalks, more greenery and bike lanes are all part of a new vision for north Main Avenue.
The draft plan, which covers the avenue from 14th Street to Animas View Drive, was compiled by consultants after traffic studies and meetings that identified some of the most problematic areas along the corridor, said Amber Blake, Durango’s transportation and sustainability director.
The city was awarded a grant from the Sonoran Institute that is paying for Alta Planning + Design to do the conceptual design work along north Main. The city is not paying for any of the design work, but staff members intend to integrate this plan into a larger study of the corridor’s development potential, said Greg Hoch, director of the community development program.
In their plan, the consultants outlined specific solutions for safety concerns such as more traffic signals, continuous sidewalks and bike routes that would protect cyclists.
All of these proposed projects must have Colorado Department of Transportation approval because this stretch of Main Avenue is also U.S. Highway 550.
“What we want to try to balance is business access and visibility and traffic calming with the fact this is a state highway and it carries a super high volume of cars everyday,” said Tim Walsworth the executive director of the Business Improvement District.
All along the corridor, more landscaping and narrower lanes for cars are suggested to help slow traffic, an idea the city councilors supported last week.
“It all looks very sensible,” Councilor Dick White said.
Lanes for cars would need to be narrowed slightly to make way for wider sidewalks and bike lanes.
These lanes could be demarcated by paint or further separated by a physical buffer. In those areas, where a bike lane isn’t as practical, the plan suggests channeling cyclists to safer alternative routes.
For example, bicycles could be directed along East Second Avenue from the Durango Community Recreation Center to 31st Street.
Some key changes could also be made at 19th, 22nd and 32nd streets, Blake said.
Main Avenue and 19th Street, which is blocks from the Durango Public Library, came up the most in conversations with the public as a problem area, she said.
The draft plan proposes a flashing warning, street striping and a median at the 19th Street intersection that would provide a place for pedestrians to stop.
CDOT is already planning to replace the 22nd and 32nd streets traffic lights strung on wire with lights on metal beams, said Nancy Shanks, the CDOT spokeswoman.
At 32nd Street, the plan suggests a new median south of the intersection and a widened right-turn lanes for drivers turning from 32nd onto Main Avenue.
CDOT and the city would need to work together on this design.
“There are many opportunities for partnering,” Blake said.
At the north end of Main Avenue, the consultants also suggested work on the 35th Street intersection where a flashing beacon could make pedestrian crossings safer.
Walsworth applauded this solution because cars coming into town are still slowing down.
In some places, the plan suggested avoiding the surface of north Main altogether.
At 32nd Street, a pedestrian bridge is called for, and at 26th Street, by the La Plata County Fairgounds, the plan calls for an overpass or an underpass.
This comprehensive plan for the corridor is largely unfunded, and it would need to be completed over a long period of time.
Some projects could be included in the Durango City Council’s 2016 budget discussions, Blake said.
More public comment will help refine the highest priorities in the plan.