The Seventh Street sidewalk project between Ash Street and South Sligo Street is underway. The project is mostly being funded by the Colorado Department of Transportation.
The title of the program was recently changed to "Alternatives" with passage of the recent federal funding bill.
CDOT spokeswoman Nancy Shanks said federal transportation enhancement funds came to the department to provide monies to communities wanting to do improvement projects for improvements after a selection process.
She said the city project was approved and the funds were provided, so the city could begin with the project.
Candelaria Construction was selected in late February by the Cortez City Council to do the work for $284,635.
The city is responsible for 20 percent of the cost with 80 percent coming from federal funds.
The fiscal impacts, in which Cortez's share was generated by city sales tax, is aimed at improving the streets, providing storm systems and other paving needs in the city.
Candelaria Construction owner James Candelaria said they have 60 days to finish the project from April 1. He said his crew started work on the sidewalk early because it had free time and the weather cooperated.
He said the project includes 2,370 square yards of six-inch sidewalks. He is expecting the project to be completed in May.
The Cortez project was facilitated by the state's Transportation Alternatives Program, which is based on and funded by the federal highway program and administered by CDOT.
The Transportation Alternatives Program funds specific types of projects that enhance a community's existing transportation system.
To receive funding through the TAP, a local, state or federal government agency must sponsor the project, and the sponsor, in this instance the city of Cortez is required to provide a minimum of 20 percent of the cost.
Candelaria said the sidewalk project, when completed, will improve safety.
"From what I understand it is safety for kids going toward the (current) high school," he said. "It's a nice walk and provides safety for the kids now and in the future when the new high school will be built."
The new high school is set to open for the 2015-16 school year.
According to the city's bid results for this project, the sidewalks will encourage and improve the ability of residents to move through the community without having to go to Main Street.
The document also states that it will improve safety for bicyclists, pedestrians, decrease the use of motorized vehicles resulting in reduced traffic and the impact on the city's environment and the trail will allow easy and safe access to the new high school at Sligo and Seventh streets.
In a press release CDOT reported that cities and counties throughout southwest Colorado must submit projects to its regional office in Durango for consideration.
A selection panel comprised of representatives from the Southwest, San Luis Valley and Gunnison Valley Regional Planning Commissions reviewed and ranked the applications based on specific criteria including project eligibility, engineering issues and cost estimates.
Following this process, the applications were approved by the full Regional Planning Commissions