At The Crossroads of CDOT and COVID-19
Special Events Cancelled Thru September
Special COVID-19 UPDATE: All Leadville special events scheduled for this summer have been canceled. At a special events work session meeting held on May 12, the Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) voted unanimously in favor of the canceling all special events in America’s highest city through September 2020. The nearly two-hour meeting which can be seen here in its entirety highlighted a wide range of medical, healthcare, event planning and first responder professionals from Leadville Today who collectively determined it would not be safe to hold large public gatherings, including the Leadville Race Series and the iconic Leadville Trail 100 MTB and Run races. Here is the Press Release from Lake County’s Public Information Officer and the Press Release from Life Time.
Laying Down Some Truth on Main Street
By Kathy Bedell, © Leadville Today
Twelve weeks ago this would have been a very different story. Back on February 13 when Leadville Today (LT) attended a work session meeting between the state’s highway department, Xcel Energy, and nearly a dozen city and county officials, the headline to this post would have read very differently. In fact, it would have cast a gloomy shadow over the $5 million construction project which less than 90 days out, did not have a contractor secured, reported confusion about the proper permits necessary for the projects, and demonstrated representation that can only be described as unaccountable and sophomoric.
But that meeting was before Coronavirus (bC). Since then, the COVID-19 lockdown has forced many of these meetings into the public purview via Zoom and YouTube. And that could very well be the silver lining to a pandemic which is already changing the way people live and do business in Leadville Today (LT). Gone is the former meet-and-greet governance of cardboard displays and sticky-note surveys, the results of which are collecting dust among the stack of master-plan narratives, as these policy-making meetings now go on-the-record, beholden elected officials to the Sunshine Laws.
To that end, Leadville Today will simply bring readers up-to-date on what’s happening with several of the projects discussed at that mid-February meeting. Today’s post concerns the “US 24 Leadville Overlay & ADA Ramps” project.
In a press release distributed to the media on April 21, the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) announced that they had secured the prime contractor, United Companies, and planned to begin working on US 24 in early May. So far, so good. In fact, one of the earlier conflicts pointed to work that Xcel Energy needed to complete which included jumping gas lines across several intersections on Highway 24/Poplar Street. Fortunately, Leadville’s early May weather has been cooperating and all the crews continue to meet those schedules.
According to Leadville City Administrator Sarah Dallas who has also been identified as the liaison for the city projects, “We hope to have a business support meeting (this) week with a tentative work schedule on the CDOT project and work on coordination as the project changes to ensure each intersection and ADA/ramp work in front of a business is prepared for their scheduled week of work. We have been waiting on the project contractors for the CDOT project to get us this tentative schedule to have this meeting – likely on the Planning and Zoning agenda Wednesday night 5-13-2020 at 6 p.m.”
Aesthetically speaking, these two new stoplights will be among the most noticeable changes when the work is complete, especially on historic Harrison Avenue. Initial CDOT reports indicate that these two new stoplights will have more of an industrial-feel than the former exposed-wire swingers, which will be a big improvement at the Safeway intersection but could certainly raise eyebrows in Leadville’s historic district. The most recent schedule released indicates that the replacement of traffic signals will be: “June through July.”
By far the most pivotal part of the work being done this summer will be the paving project which includes two miles of resurfacing Highway 24 from Mountain View Drive through downtown Leadville to McWethy Drive. While this work was significant to Leadville’s core business district before Coronavirus, its importance has quadrupled since the pandemic as it could be some of the last highway improvements that rural Colorado sees for some time.
Last month, on April 16 the committee that oversees CDOT’s budget reported – barely 30-days into the pandemic – that there were “hard choices and tough decisions” ahead. In fact, Colorado’s budget is facing a $3.2 billion shortfall this year, $2.5 billion next year and a billion dollars the year after that, according to official projections. CDOT alone is looking at a $50 million loss in its primary source of revenue which is generated from fuel tax revenues.
Even if Washington, DC lawmakers can agree on the next round of funding, some slated for infrastructure, this summer’s project is the here-and-now-moment for Lake County while other rural roadways have not seen improvements since the 1970s. For that reason alone, it’s critical that all the stakeholders come together and work for a common good, to assure that this project is done properly and gets the support it needs.
This project will also result in the re-painting of the traffic lanes and parking spaces on Harrison Avenue. To date, LT’s conversation with CDOT officials verified that “nothing is written in stone,” that it’s still up to residents to let their city representatives know their wishes about how they want the tarffic lanes to looks in downtown Leadville. Since the summer of 2017 when the surprise-to-many “re-stripping” of main street left residents frustrated by their elected council – ironically NONE of whom still service on Leadville City Council – certain variables and attitudes have changed.
Now three years later, residents and businesses have had a chance to experience first-hand what is working and what is not on Leadville’s main drag. For example, some crosswalks could be relocated to more natural traffic patterns. And in light of Coronavirus challenges, pick-up and to-go curbside commerce could be the business-of-the-day along Harrison Avenue for years to come, identifying the need for more loading and delivery areas than parking spaces or bike lanes. And what about the bus stops, can plans be made for shelters for commuters?
All readers are encouraged to sign up for updates, and attend virtual meetings when you can, informing your city and county representatives about what’s important to you. Stay informed via the CDOT official web page for Highway 24, subscribe to updates by contacting the project hotline phone number at (970) 946-4132 or email at LeadvilleUS24@gmail.com.
Finally, many of the upcoming utility upgrade projects, including CDOT’s this summer, will also be a key factor in helping to keep the local economy moving over the next several months. As other rural, tourist-related areas across the state are hit hard by a slowdown from the Coronavirus pandemic, these essential workers are staying in local hotels, they are getting take-out from local restaurants, and they are employing local folks. All are working hard to complete a $5 million road project, paving the way for Leadville’s future.
So give them a brake, stay alert and awake, for all and for one, let them get the job done! Until next time, stay in touch through LT’s various social platforms or email email@example.com.
Bus Services Expanded This Week
According to their website, Effective May 11, 2020, The Summit Stage has resumed limited fare-free service on the Lake County Commuter and the Park County Commuter routes. The Lake County Commuter Route between Leadville and Frisco will include departures from Leadville at 7 a.m. and 1 p.m., and from Frisco at 12 p.m. and 5:50 p.m.
All passengers 2 years and older are required to wear a face-covering to help prevent the community spread of disease. To maintain appropriate social distancing, the number of riders per bus will be limited, and selected seats will be closed to use. Passengers are asked to only use the rear door when loading or unloading. Summit Stage requires all passengers to comply with the desired outcomes of the Governor’s Public Health Order 20-24 and the Summit County Public Health Department Amended Public Health Order dated March 23, 2020, along with an Addendum dated March 26, 2020, in response to the state actions.
Summit Stage offers free public transit service within Summit County, providing access to our public lands, lodging, town centers, retail areas, and medical centers. We also operate two low-cost commuter routes, connecting with both Park County and Lake County. Summit Stage provides complimentary demand-response ADA paratransit service within 3/4 mile of our fixed routes.