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Parking a top concern as public comments on designs for Main Avenue

Study to examine space supply citywide
Durango residents met with city planners and concept consultants from 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday to review and comment on the city’s latest preliminary plans for the future of Main Avenue between Fifth and 14th streets. A public questionnaire remains open on the city website until Sunday for last-minute comments, criticisms and concerns. (Christian Burney/Durango Herald)

Parking remains a top concern for residents who have provided feedback about a possible redesign of Main Avenue in downtown Durango.

An open house held Thursday featured the latest conceptual designs for the streetscape between Fifth Street and 14th Street. The city has been collecting comments from the public to help inform its reimagining of Main Avenue.

Feedback left by residents at the open house and through an online questionnaire, which closes Sunday, will contain the last public comments formally considered for the project before design concepts are tweaked and presented to City Council.

Savannah Lytle, planner for the city, said most feedback is supportive of redesigning downtown’s Main Avenue and moving forward. But parking availability remains the top issue on many residents’ minds.

Residents could examine a long printout of the current and near-final concept design for Main Avenue in downtown Durango on Thursday at the Fort Lewis College Innovation Center at the Main Mall. (Christian Burney/Durango Herald)

“With the plan that’s proposed right now, we would lose, I believe, 54 parking spaces,” she said. “The bump-outs take 47, so it wouldn’t be that much more than it is right now with the bump-outs.”

The city is looking to start a citywide study to examine parking space supply issues, the metered parking program, potentials for technology upgrades and future needs for parking, said Sarah Hill, city transportation director.

“It’s going to be a pretty comprehensive study,” she said. “Specifically, with this project and its impact on our day-to-day life.”

Hill said she has heard many comments from residents that a parking study should have been launched before conceptualizing a new Main Avenue, but “the reconfiguration of Main Avenue has been a priority project since 2006.”

The city must begin issuing project proposals to engineers and designers once public feedback has been consolidated and accounted for, she said.

The design work is funded through a 2015 half-cent sales tax increase and is prioritized by the Durango Multimodal Advisory Board, she said.

Elly Schaefer, project manager with MIG in planning and urban design, said the concept presented at Thursday’s open house retains a three-lane street as currently exists. However, the concept shows a shrunk width of road lanes to an industry standard of 10 feet as opposed to 12 feet currently.

The lane shrinkage is to allow 10 extra feet for sidewalk expansion, 5 feet on each side of the street, for more pedestrian traffic as indicated as a high priority in the first two Downtown’s Next Step questionnaires, she said.

Other prominent features of the latest design include expanded business space for patios, outdoor displays and landscaping, Schaefer said.

Bulb-outs in the form of rounded corner curbs also appeared in the design. Schaefer said curved curbs are a common design in many cities because of their ability to take advantage of underused space – cars aren’t supposed to stop inside of crosswalks – and shorten the distance from one end of a crosswalk to the other.

Bulb-outs can also allow a bit more space for trees, landscaping, art and amenities, she said.

Lytle said that despite the project having received less feedback in the current third questionnaire than during its second questionnaire, which garnered more than 1,000 responses online, she is pleased with the amount of public participation and engagement with conceptualizing downtown Durango’s future.

The current design concept and questionnaire is available online until Sunday and can be viewed at https://durangogov.org/downtownmain.


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