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Cortez Main Street May Have New Medians, Narrower Lanes

Austin Cope

The Cortez City Council gave preliminary approval Tuesday to moving forward with a revamp of several blocks of Main Street downtown to make them safer and more pedestrian-friendly.

The improvements are part of an Access Control Plan developed in 2015 with the Colorado Department of Transportation. At the council workshop, Public Works Director Phil Johnson said the downtown project would include reducing lane width from 12 feet to 10.5, thereby providing room for a buffer or bike lane adjacent to parking lanes. The center turn lane would be reduced from 16 feet to 12. City Manager Shane Hale said narrower lanes induce people to drive more slowly. Johnson estimated the cost for the work, which involves only surface treatments such as installing medians and restriping, at $100,000 per block. Mayor Karen Sheek said she would like to see the entire project completed as quickly as possible. She said, “Don’t tax me and take my money and put it someplace. If you’re going to tax me, use it.” The council informally agreed to include $400,000 for the project in next year’s tentative budget with the goal of treating several blocks in fall 2017 in the vicinity of Chestnut to Ash streets. The city will pursue grant funding as well.

Gail Binkly is a career journalist who has worked for the Colorado Springs Gazette and Cortez Journal, and was the editor of the Four Corners Free Press, based in Cortez.
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