On Tuesday, the Cortez City Council accepted a $200,000 grant from the Colorado Department of Local Affairs for “Phase 1” of a Main Street improvement project.
At several previous meetings, the city has discussed plans for medians and other improvements on Main Street.
The grant comes from DOLA’s Energy and Mineral Impact fund. The rest of the project’s estimated $560,000 will come from the Cortez street improvement fund. The city has scheduled five public meetings – on July 17, 19, 24, 26 and 31 – to discuss how the project will affect businesses.
After Public Works Director Phil Johnson said he hopes to start construction after Labor Day, Sept. 4, and finish the first phase of the street improvements this year, weather permitting. Later phases of the project would add safety measures along Main Street.
According to materials the city released Tuesday, the construction will take place from Ash Street to Elm Street, covering about four blocks. On each block, the city plans to install a 20-inch raised median to divide the east- and westbound lanes. Left turns would still be possible in most places.
The city’s public outreach meetings on the project will take place at the Sunflower Theatre from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. on each scheduled day. Each meeting will focus on a different block of Main Street, and the last one, on July 31, will give an overview of the entire project.
A Tuesday news release from the city said that “businesses are welcome to attend any meeting if they cannot attend the one specific to their block.” Each meeting will include an opportunity for business owners to ask questions and voice concerns about the project.
On Thursday, Johnson said the project is a result of long-range planning by the city that started in 2012 with a two-year Heart and Soul Community Planning grant from the Orton Family Foundation.
Johnson said previous studies, including one the city conducted in 2015 as a partnership with the Colorado Department of Transportation, showed that the project could slow traffic and make downtown Cortez safer for pedestrians.