Breck begins to pull major projects together
BRECKENRIDGE – Breckenridge town officials plan to hold several meetings to gather input from citizens about what should be done to improve Main Street once the road falls into town jurisdiction this winter.
The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) currently has jurisdiction over the road as Highway 9. But under an agreement currently being forged by CDOT officials, the Highway 9 designation will be moved from Main Street to Park Avenue before the end of the year, said Town Engineer Eric Guth.
The impetus for the work rose from the desire to improve the pedestrian experience on Main Street, address the aging infrastructure and reduce congestion by eliminating some of the competing uses.
The town has conducted about a half-dozen studies related to Main Street, including how the transit center, Riverwalk Center, arts district, gondola and other amenities will fit together. Additionally, town planners have developed plans for various districts and tried to figure out how all the projects will complement each other.
“This is the thread that pulls it all together,” said Town Manager Tim Gagen at a council worksession Tuesday afternoon.
Before any work begins, however, town officials plan to educate the public – particularly reminding it of all the work that has been done to date, Guth said. That process will include reminding the public about the benefits of the swap of Highway 9 and Main Street, meeting with Main Street merchants, outlining the numerous potential improvement options and publishing the information wherever they can.
Some improvements already are under way. The town and ski area have forged an agreement for development at the base of Peaks 7 and 8, including a gondola that will improve traffic problems in town. Construction of the transit center infrastructure is under way, the ski area and town bus systems are better integrated and the arts district is slowly coming into its own.
Other projects will begin next summer, notably construction of the roundabout at the intersection of Main Street and Park Avenue and a new traffic signal at French and Main streets. Additionally, the town’s sewer system under Main Street needs to be replaced, and the town engineering staff is trying to figure out how to accomplish that with the least interruption to activity on Main Street.
Other improvements that have been suggested in the various studies include increasing on-street parking, implementing a paid parking system, improving the landscaping, improving intersection and midblock pedestrian crossings, building paths to the Riverwalk Center, installing street furniture and more meeting spaces and continuing to integrate the transit system.
Very few items have been eliminated from the list of possibilities. Two proposals the town does not plan to do is close Main Street to vehicular traffic and turn it into a pedestrian mall or widen sidewalks, which has been proven to damage the town’s economic vitality.
The second phase, which could take place as early as next spring, will involve taking input to identify and develop preferred designs and draft a construction schedule sensitive to the summer tourism season.
The third phase will involve constructing the improvements.
Mayor Sam Mamula reminded the council that for the projects to be a success, town officials must approach them slowly and make sure the public has a say in what’s ultimately done.
“With all this talk about coming off the economic downturn, and then we talk about closing Main Street for a summer … we’ve got to make sure everyone’s tied into this,” he said. “We don’t want to rush into this one. Breckenridge’s future is here on this page. It’s that important.”
Jane Stebbins can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 228, or
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