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Cortez Main Street median project is delayed

City to advertise for bids in spring
A pedestrian crosses Main Street in Cortez. City officials hope that medians will make Main Street safer.

The city of Cortez has delayed construction of medians on Main Street until next spring, Public Works Director Phil Johnson told the city council on Tuesday.

In a workshop before the council meeting, Johnson said the public works department did not receive construction bids for the project, which would have involved building raised medians on about four blocks of Main Street and a crosswalk near the Edith Street intersection. He plans to start advertising for bids again in December, with the goal of completing the project by Memorial Day 2018. The city originally planned to start construction after Labor Day.

Johnson said he believed construction companies didn’t bid for the project because it was advertised too late in the year and for too short a time. The city opened bidding on Aug. 16, and although three companies were represented at a prebid meeting, Johnson said none of them had submitted a bid by Tuesday. He said at least one of the contractors expressed concern that his company couldn’t meet the city’s goals before winter.

Johnson said he was disappointed by the delay, but added that it might turn out to be a blessing in disguise. At a series of public outreach meetings the city held in July concerning the project, several Main Street business owners pointed out that it would overlap with their busiest shopping season. If construction started in spring, Johnson said, that will be less of a problem.

“We’re going to be going into a better weather season,” he said. “We’re going to be advertising this when contractors are not working ... and we’re going to garner more interest.”

He said he planned to start advertising for bids as soon as the city budget is finalized in December, in order to give contractors more time to respond. His goal is to begin construction in March.

City Manager Shane Hale called the delay “a setback,” but said he remained optimistic about the city’s chances to finish the medians next year.

“Now I think our goal is to make sure we’ve done enough outreach back to the business community, to make sure they understand the project is delayed,” he said. “We need to make sure we keep them updated.”

Cortez marketing and events manager Jonathon Brooks sent out a news release about the delay Tuesday afternoon, and Johnson said he and Mark Drudge, executive director of the Cortez Retail Enhancement Association, would continue to update business owners about the project.

City officials announced their intention to install medians on several blocks of Main Street, along with a crosswalk near the Edith Street intersection and other safety measures, in January. On July 13, the city council voted to accept a $200,000 grant from the Colorado Department of Local Affairs to complete the project, which Johnson estimated would cost $560,000 total. He said the city’s contract with DOLA won’t expire until August 2019.

The medians are part of phase 1 in a multiyear project intended to improve downtown safety, especially for pedestrians. One part of phase 1, involving pavement improvements on several alleyways near Main Street, was already delayed until next year because of its cost. Johnson said he now plans to include the alley improvements as part of the median project. Money from the 2017 street improvement fund that would have gone to pay for the medians will be reallocated into the 2018 budget.

Even without the median project, Johnson said the city is on track to spend about $1.2 million on street improvements this year.

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