Breck readies for swapping Main Street and Highway 9 |

Breck readies for swapping Main Street and Highway 9

BRECKENRIDGE – The Breckenridge town staff plans to dust off and crack open the numerous studies the town has conducted over the years to determine what might be of use when the state moves Highway 9 to Park Avenue.

The so-called “swap,” which Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) and town officials hope will take place next month, will free up Main Street and allow the town to dictate changes made to it. Until now, the state-owned roadway has fallen under the jurisdiction of CDOT.

The swap was originally proposed to reduce pedestrian and vehicular conflicts and allow the town to make changes on the main road through town.

The studies are numerous and varied and address parking, landscaping, pedestrian travel, sidewalks, signs and “messy animation.”

The pedestrian elements of Main Street will likely represent the top priority for changes, said Town Manager Tim Gagen.

Studies have suggested the town widen sidewalks to more comfortably accommodate throngs of people strolling and shopping, implement paid parking to discourage employees from parking downtown and eliminate some landscaping.

For instance, ground-level flower beds tend to collect trash, and pedestrians often trample the pansies planted there, Gagen said. Additionally, they contribute to pedestrian crowding.

Another study has suggested Breckenridge officials examine the parking situation on Main Street. One suggestion involves eliminating parking on one side of the street or only permitting diagonal parking to free up more spaces for cars.

To make Main Street safer for pedestrians, the town might consider elevating the crosswalks to make them more visible and to slow down traffic. Another consideration could be to place traffic signs in the center of the road, similar to Frisco’s stop signs at Fourth and Main streets and Madison and Main streets.

Many other signs, however, will likely be removed to free the street of clutter.

Other improvements will have to be phased in, Gagen said. The town’s water main is in good shape, but the sewer pipes might have sections that need to be replaced. That work could involve closing the street, one block at a time, to reach the pipes, which are about 20 feet under the roadway.

Another long-term project the town wants to work on is the Riverwalk Center and the new performing arts district, which extends from the Breckenridge Theatre – formerly Shamus O’Toole’s Roadhouse Saloon – to the Riverwalk.

Town officials hope to involve merchants in that discussion, primarily to encourage them to open up the backs of their stores to the public walking along the Riverwalk and provide walkways between businesses.

The town staff also will review its policies on newspaper boxes, which along with free fliers – most of which are real estate brochures – line the streets. In the 1980s, the town worked with the Summit County Journal, Summit Sentinel, Denver Post and Rocky Mountain News to erect modular boxes at various locations in town. The modular units are used in most large cities and many smaller towns and are designed to keep newspapers in a central location and neaten up streets.

The Summit Daily News has 16 newspaper boxes in public areas between South Park Avenue and Lincoln Street.

The town might consider monitoring the distribution of sales brochures, too, Gagen said.

“They’d be part of the same discussion,” he said. “It’s not a media thing, with the freedom of the press. They’re more of a business thing designed to sell real estate.”

CDOT officials, who met with delays because of major culvert problems along the interstate in May, hope to have a draft agreement ready for the town by the end of the month.

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