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Cortez prepares to start median construction after delay

Council to consider bids this month

After several months of delays, the Cortez Public Works Department is again preparing to install medians on Main Street.

Approved in January 2017, the construction project is part of the city’s long-term plan to improve the downtown area by creating raised medians on Main Street, improving crosswalks and sidewalk ramps and building a crosswalk near the Edith Street intersection at McDonald’s.

Public Works Director Phil Johnson originally planned to complete construction in fall 2017, but it was delayed until spring when no construction companies bid on the project. Now, Johnson said he hopes to bring construction bids before the City Council on April 24 and start the project in early June.

In August, Johnson told the City Council that despite the delay, he hoped to have the median project finished by Memorial Day. But on Wednesday, he said construction had to be put on hold again while the Colorado Department of Transportation, which shares the responsibility for maintaining Main Street as part of U.S. Highway 160, reviewed his department’s plans.

In order to qualify for the state funding that is covering some of the project’s costs, he said the city had to receive several environmental, right-of-way and safety clearances from CDOT before the construction bidding process could start.

“It took some time to get everything done according to the requirements,” Johnson said.

The city published an invitation to bid on its website and in The Journal starting on March 13.

Public Works staff discussed the details of the project on Wednesday with representatives from several construction companies that responded to the invitation. Bidding officially closes at 3 p.m. on April 18, and Johnson said he plans to bring a proposal to City Council the following Tuesday.

If all goes well with the bidding process, Johnson said he hopes to start construction on Main Street “no later than the second week of June.”

He said the city’s public information officer, Jon Brooks, would inform business owners along Main Street once a timeline for the project is established.

He added that it would be impossible to complete a construction project on this scale without affecting local businesses and traffic, but his department would try to keep the impact “as minimal as possible.”

The median project will be partly funded by a $200,000 grant from the Colorado Department of Local Affairs, which expires in 2019.

Johnson said CDOT is also providing funds to replace the accessible sidewalk ramps at several intersections.

The rest of the money will come from the city’s streets improvement fund, which includes $975,000 for downtown projects in 2018.

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