The Main Street construction project in Lamar will be conducted in three phases over several years and the bidding for a contractor for the first phase will begin May 5th of this year. Brian Long, CDOT resident engineer for southeast Colorado and Dean VanDeWege, P.E. Senior Project Manager for Jacobs Consulting, hosted a public information meeting for concerned Lamar citizens at the Cultural Events Center Monday, February 8th.
Long said once a contractor had been selected, CDOT expected work on the first phase along Main Street to begin sometime in July. He told the gathering of some 50 local officials, business owners and residents that the contractor will select the route of construction, whether it runs north to south or vice-versa or, by the same token, begins on either the east or west side of Highway 287 as it passes through downtown Lamar. Various easels depicting several segments of the project were available for viewing.
“We intend for the first phase to move quickly,” Long explained, adding, “We consider the downtown core to run from Maple Street to Oak and we want to move along that pathway quickly.” He said there won’t be any concrete laid in the first phase, but the town will see three foot deep trenches dug along either sides of the street, the center median will be removed and the median street lights will be replaced with led models and moved to the sidewalks. New curb and gutters will be built and the brick portion of the sidewalk will be eliminated, widening the street accordingly. Long said he believed the trees along Main Street won’t be touched. The first phase will concentrate on electrical wiring and replacing the outdated water mains with new 12 inch pipes. “You’re going to see improved storm drainage downtown as we’re re-grading the roadway very slightly once the medians are eliminated. We’ll also construct new handicapped access at each of the intersections,” he stated.
As outlined, the phases will run from Colonia Street by the Lamar Canal, south to Park Street, after that from Park to Savage Avenue and finally, from Savage to College Road past the LCC horse arena property. “We want to extend the concrete strip from the Port of Entry to just south of the Lamar Elks Lodge where it will connect with the other concrete section of highway,” he told the audience. South of Parkway, the highway will narrow by two feet on either side of the road. The curb and gutter will be moved back by that distance, but it will have no effect on the sidewalks or new lighting. He added that there’s not a lot of parking along that stretch of highway anyway. The work for each phase will concentrate on three blocks at a time. There will be pedestrian access along the streets, but parking will be prohibited in the work areas. Detour signs will be posted and business owners will be given a couple of weeks’ notice before construction begins in their area. VanDeWege said continuous communication on the project is being given a high priority, door-to-door and through local media.
There are two places in town where the median will remain in place, at the railroad crossing and at the North Loves C-store. State safety regulations specify that the crossing arms at the railroad must cover the entire street and the median will help accomplish that. The other safety concern will be to keep the semis leaving the store on the south side of the highway and the median will help with that. There will be no changes on the highway for trucks turning north from Loves, but the south exits along the store front will be constructed to keep the trucks in two distinct areas when they depart. “We believe that the new Loves store being built in Eads will cut back on traffic in Lamar when southbound drivers stop there instead of here,” he explained.
Ruthie Esgar, owner of bettian’s gift store, downtown, asked about the possibilities of having a work schedule that eliminates construction downtown from August through December. “That’s the most important time for us through the year,” she explained. Long said he couldn’t make any guarantees as the timetable was up to the contractor, but everyone was in agreement that the downtown work between Maple and Oak Streets would be completed as quickly as possible. He said the project does depend on available funding for all three phases and the first would commence around July of this year, ending by the fall of 2017. The third and final phase was expected to begin in 2021.
By Russ Baldwin
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