Striping – And Griping – in Leadville Today
Paving Project Underway, Off-Schedule
Historic Harrison Avenue. These three simple words bring a broad smile to many faces when identifying Leadville’s main drag. However, this Summer of COVID-19 it’s been a drag of a different sort. And it’s about to get a bit worse.
Milling and paving operations are currently underway on US Highway 24, more commonly known as Harrison Avenue in downtown Leadville. Off-schedule from what was originally presented to the public and local business community, the contractor under the direction of Leadville City officials has yet again, changed its plans. The Colorado Department of Transportation and prime contractor, United Companies, announced on Friday, Aug. 14 a new schedule that pushes traffic delays and congestion directly into the heart of the summer season, weeks before what had been presented and planned on for months.
“It’s not what we were told, that wasn’t the plan,” said one downtown retail outlet. “It might be convenient for them, but for businesses hoping to recoup anything from this summer season, this will put an end to that.” It’s another crushing blow for downtown businesses as the frustration grows from parking to public safety concerns to lost revenue. With more and more closed-until-further-notice and Help-Wanted signs in the windows of main street businesses, any hope for re-cooping what’s left of the profitable tourist season has been diminished as work crews begin – at least – two weeks of tearing up, milling, down, re-paving and then re-stripping two (2) miles of the state highway from Mountain View Drive at the Safeway intersection all the way south through downtown to Elm Street.
While the work was always part of the original project, the major road disruption from milling and paving was not planned until September into October. As noted in the original press release distributed to media outlets last April, it clearly stated that June through July would see the replacement of traffic signal, there was no work planned for August. However, crews continued to work on the ADA ramps and sidewalks well into the month of August, still wrapping up that work this week. Businesses were told up until just last week that the milling and paving project would not begin until “September through project end (October)”.
Of course, everything is subject to change, and as most high country citizens understand you get the work done while the weather is holding. To that end, last Thursday, Aug. 13 the Colorado Department of Transportation released the following update regarding the “US Overlay & ADA Ramps” project:
Work will get underway at the north end of town at Mountain View Drive and progress south. Travelers can expect shoulder and single-lane closures in the work zone segments, which will change daily. All side street approaches to US 24 (approximately 20 feet) will also be milled and paved with short-term closures as well.
Milling begins Monday, August 17 and will commence for two weeks. US 24 will be milled first and the approaches (side street intersections) second. Paving will begin August 31 and will be addressed in a similar fashion as the milling.
- Shoulder closures
- One-lane closures
- Short-term side street intersection closures
- IMPORTANT NOTE: Please pay attention to the no parking signs during milling and paving operations. Vehicles parked in the work zone will be towed.
Estimated Project Schedule (subject to change):
- Project is scheduled to conclude at the end of October.
- Normal working hours will be from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday. In special cases,these hours may be extended.
- Weather has a huge impact on the paving schedule.
All schedules are subject to change and weather dependent. Hotline: 970-946-4132. Email: LeadvilleUS24@gmail.com
Drawing the Lines in Downtown Leadville
There are certain topics among the civil discords in Leadville’s history that seem to recur. Chief among them are the fire department and mining operations. For a variety of reasons, these two issues have been at the center of many a Leadville argument, lawsuit, and legendary grudge-holding standoff over the decades. There’s one more Cloud City controversy that rounds out the top three, and it’s about to rear it’s head again: parking.
How to do it? Where to do it? How long you can do it? Just take a look back through the old postcards or even news photos from different decades and the age-old debate of diagonal versus parallel configurations or metered versus permit, changes, oftentimes with city leadership. But there’s little doubt that as Leadville’s love affair with highway transportation grows so does the need for parking.
So in June 2017 when the City of Leadville – nearly acting as a thief in the night – completely re-configured the traffic and parking on Leadville’s main drag, unbeknownst to merchant nor manor, the village torches were lit up on social media. The soft semantics of “re-configuration” kept many in-the-dark until after the work was complete, igniting a heated exchange of words with members of City Council, ironically none of whom serve today – except the Mayor. The sneaky striping pitted city and CDOT officials not only against residents and avenue merchants who were seeing their valuable loading and parking spaces disappear at the rate of nearly one per city block but also against each other in a finger-pointing blame game that doesn’t seem to have improved three years later.
So what can residents expect? Did officials do a traffic survey study? Did they find out the best pedestrian crosswalk locations? Did they accommodate for the new world of more pick up and delivery and a growing residential community on the Avenue? And for goodness sakes did the planning folks finally take into account the dedicated delivery truck drivers, often risking their lives in a dangerous game of “Frogger” crossing the avenue, straddling the bike lane in order to get their heavily-laden hand trucks to the intended recipient? Or is there simply going to be more of the same in Leadville Today?
You be the Judge. After several inquiries to both the contractor and city officials, Leadville Today finally got copies of the plans for milling paving and eventually re-striping Highway 24, aka historic Harrison Avenue. which are currently underway. #WhatSayYou? Join the conversation or email to info@LeadvilleToday.com.
The Plan: Block by Block
Ramping it Up on the Corner
Leadville Today readers weighed in on the new ADA Ramps – 90 in all – which were created by United Companies under the direction of Leadville City officials as part of the Colorado Department of Transportation’s (CDOT) Highway 24 Overlay Project. Overall the project called for 90 new curb ramps will allow for better accessibility for persons with disabilities, which has been a statewide initiative for CDOT since 2018. The project includes a new traffic signal at 6th Street and Harrison Avenue (US 24) as well as upgraded pushbuttons and indicators for pedestrians. The demolition and reconstruction of curbs, gutters and ADA ramps with sidewalk tie-ins was included in the improvements.
Overall the LT reviews indicate that the contractor did a good job on the project, but as any resident of 10,200′ understands, winter can get pretty tough on roads and sidewalks. So the first round of snow and freezing temperatures will be the true test – especially for that island piece at 9th and Harrison.
What LT readers are saying:
- “Glad to see Leadville getting a small facelift for safety and accessibility!”
- “Looks wonderful.”
- “I’ve watched them pull up this corner and re-do it three times,” said an employee on one of the corner establishments.
- “That ought to be a real delight when it’s covered in snow and you hit it. If I still lived up there, I’d open a tire and front end alignment shop..”
Particularly in regard to the ADA ramp at the corner of 9th and Harrison:
- “How long is this going to last? Did they take in a count the big semi’s that take that turn? I’ve been there when they make that turn, pretty tight.”
- “Who is going to shovel this?”
- “Anyone tried taking a wheelchair around these sharp corners yet?”
Particularly in regard to that island piece at 9th and Harrison
- “This one is questionable at best…. were they even thinking about all the big trucks that come through here? or how about the snowplows that are gonna take that out ? … but hey… it looks nice right?…”
- “Watch how many truckers hit that curb or take a car out cuz there isn’t enough room to go around that corner.”
Corner of E. 7th & Harrison
- “The City kills another grove of mature aspen trees on historic Harrison Avenue to put in a flower bed and stone bench. History really does repeat itself!”
In Front of Subway at 9th & Poplar/Hwy 24
- “What is under the grating a heat tunnel or something for water control?
What do YOU think? Join the conversation on the Leadville Today Facebook Page
The Cement Exhibit on Display in Leadville Today