Durango streets crew cleared downtown of more than 550 truckloads of snow, repaired 86 potholes and fixed 41 street signs around town in January, and that barely scratches the asphalt surface of a slew of public works projects lined up for this year.
Durango Public Works Director Allison Baker joined other department heads and staff members for a series of presentations to City Council, recapping 2023 activities, discussed current projects and shared department plans for the year ahead.
Among myriad updates Baker gave was a brief note that the city is negotiating a bid to install the “Common Threads” community art sculpture completed years ago but never put into place.
She said a bid for installing will be awarded “soon.”
The art piece is expected to be installed at the median of the U.S. Highways 550 and 160 intersection in west Durango.
“’Common Threads’ is making an effort to work with CDOT out in the right of way of (U.S. Highways 550 and 160),” Baker said. “There are challenges they are working toward resolving.”
Durango economic opportunity manager Tommy Crosby said in December a bid submitted by a local bidder was “looking to be about double the original budget amount of $75,000.”
In a follow-up email, he said he could not disclose the bidder or the bid’s exact cost of because negotiations were ongoing.
The art piece consists of 19 steel panels and is one of the most collaborative projects in the city’s history. It was completed in 2019, but after the city failed to find a contractor willing to install it for a reasonable price, it sat in storage for years.
Baker said construction season is coming up and project bids should be sent out soon.
For example, the city has hired a contractor for utility and paving projects slated for North College Drive.
Mike Somsen, former Durango streets supervisor, said in 2022 that construction bids for a variety of projects, including a reconstruction project for North College Drive between Florida Road and the first switchback, came in much higher than expected.
The raise in bid costs prevented several projects from getting underway then.
Somsen said then the North College Drive project consists of water line replacement, sewer line rehabilitation, new curbs and gutters, and replacement of the road base. He didn’t expect the project to get legs until 2023.
A paving and hardscape project on county roads 250 and 251 is also ready for reconstruction “as soon as weather permits,” ideally in May, Baker said on Tuesday.
She said an analysis of other 2023 capital improvement projects will soon be brought to City Council for direction.
Baker said she is encouraged project designs are on track.
Construction of the pickleball courts at Schneider Park, which started last year, is ongoing. Water line replacements are being made at the Santa Rita Water Reclamation Facility, and the temporary remodeling of the former Big Picture High School to accommodate Durango Community Development and city engineering offices was finished last month.
Baker said snow removal efforts in January resulted in more than 550 truckloads of snow being removed from downtown, and road plowing required streets crew drivers to drive the equivalent of 21 back-and-forth trips to Denver.
She said the Durango Recycling Center made 250 bales of single-stream materials last month. Likewise, it made 100 bales of cardboard, which the city can sell to make some money.
The center is currently closed for baler maintenance and will remain closed for most of February.