Making north Main Avenue more inviting for pedestrians and cyclists will require new lanes, intersection improvements and streetscaping.
A recently completed mobility study of north Main Avenue outlines the city’s major goals for the corridor from 14th Street to Animas View Drive.
Wider sidewalks, a re-striping project and new medians are all identified in the plan, which was paid for by the Sonoran Institute and completed by Alta Planning + Design.
The findings will be presented to the Durango City Council on Tuesday, and the council will likely adopt it formally soon, said Amber Blake, transportation and sustainability director.
Some projects will need grant funding to be built, and others will have to wait until buildings that block a sidewalk along the highway are remodeled or rebuilt, she said.
“It will be done piecemeal,” Blake said.
The more immediate projects will be completed by the Colorado Department of Transportation, which maintains U.S. Highway 550.
In spring 2017, 6-foot bike lanes will be painted on both sides of the highway when the entire corridor is re-striped and smoothed out, said Nancy Shanks, a CDOT spokeswoman.
CDOT just finished a similar project in Salida, and it has helped calm traffic, Shanks said.
“When you narrow lanes and add any kind of auxiliary lanes, in this case bike lanes, it calms traffic,” she said.
Durango abandoned plans for bike lanes separated by medians or other barriers because the city couldn’t remove snow from those lanes, Blake said.
Major changes to improve safety will also be coming to the 22nd Street and 32nd Street intersections. This will start with new ramps to serve those with disabilities in the fall of 2016.
“We are doing the quicker hits first,” Shanks said.
The timing of the lights at both intersections also will be adjusted to give pedestrians more time to cross the street.
The city also plans new medians at 32nd Street to stop cars from turning left onto the highway from north City Market, and another median is planned to discourage jaywalkers.
A flashing beacon is planned for 19th Street to help pedestrians walk to the Durango Public Library. This intersection was one of the highest priorities for residents during the public comment period.
All of these plans are still in the concept stages and could be adjusted, Blake said.
The transportation department will also use this study of north Main Avenue to help update the multimodal master plan, completed in 2012.
The 2016 update to the multimodal plan will address alterative cycling routes that will run parallel to north Main Avenue for those who don’t feel comfortable biking on the main highway. And other aspects of transportation will also be addressed.
“It’s important to keep our plans alive and updated,” Blake said.