Look for the long-anticipated Main Street renovation project in Lamar to begin in February. A standing room only capacity crowd attended the CDOT open house briefing at the Cultural Events Center Thursday evening, January 19, to hear the plans from American Civil Constructors, the firm hired to conduct the renovation work, a project that will run in two segments and conclude near the end of 2018. The $12.3M project is being funded mostly through federal dollars as well as CDOT and the Colorado Department of Local Affairs which is financing the much-needed water and electrical infrastructure upgrades.
In a nutshell, the project will encompass replacing the waterline and storm drainage along Highway 287 for almost a full mile through Lamar’s downtown area between Park Street and the Lamar Canal. Other facets of the project include removing and replacing the asphalt pavement with concrete, curb and gutter upgrades and new lighting and ADA compliant cross walks. The center median will be eliminated and center light posts will be moved to the sides of the street. The ACC project engineer said the width of the sidewalks will not be altered, but the project will allow more road space with the removal of the median which will become a painted center strip. He also remarked that the project will move forward in three block segments east and west of the median, traveling from the south to the north. The project will be broken into two segments with the first 20 week phase ending at the BNSF railroad tracks. The second and final phase will pick up from the other side of the tracks and end at the Lamar Canal. A smaller project calls for a water pipe to be bored under the railroad tracks. A shut down of the project has been anticipated from November 2017 to March 2018, although there may some minor projects being done during that period.
ACC Project Manager, John Grubesic, said safety would be a primary concern during construction and it is the direct nature of the overall project which will connect an 8.5 inch concrete pavement overlay between the northern and southern ends of Highway 287 through Lamar. “Our plan is to start on the south end of the project and work north three blocks at a time in a couple of phases which will see some traffic lining up head to head. We will work a configuration for space in between vehicle traffic to allow them to safely cross to other lanes.” He said the goal is to work up to the railroad tracks in the first two phases of the project by the end of the year. The 2018 segment will be everything north of the tracks.
The project will divide the highway into three zones while under construction. Zone 1 will include the median, plus the north and southbound lanes which immediately border it. That zone will be sectioned off by concrete barriers to create a protected zone for workers. The flyer states, “This is where the lion share of the work will occur and will consume 60% of the 20 weeks. Once work is complete in Zone 1 we will move all traffic to the eastern most lanes and remove the pavement and curb and gutter in the southbound lanes (Zone 2 southbound). Once complete, we will flip everything and perform work in the northbound lanes (Zone 3 northbound).”
Grubesic said construction barriers will prohibit left hand turns along the street, allowing only right in and right out turns to and from side streets. Drivers on East Olive Street, for example, won’t be able to turn south/left onto Main Street while those blocks are under construction. He added that there will be sidewalk access to the stores along Main Street at all times of construction. Responding to another question about first responder and police vehicle access to Main Street, the project manager said those departments will need to be aware of potential bottleneck traffic at some points of the three block stretch under construction along the highway.
Other ramifications to the construction will prohibit semis wider than 12 feet and longer than 80 feet from using the roads under construction; there will be no parking on Main Street within the three block work zone; there will be at least one lane of open traffic in each direction during construction and speeds will be reduced for safety reasons. Frontage access will be available by sidewalk. ACC will place signs indicating access to businesses during each phase of construction and a periodic visit will be made each address to make them aware of the approaching project. He added that pending the seasons, work should begin around 7am and continue until about 6pm during the warmer part of the year. The expected length of the project would be 450 days and there were no plans to work 24/7 in an effort to reduce that duration. As many as 20 construction employees were expected to be hired and Grubesic said three to four houses had been secured in town to accommodate the workers. There might be more workers for a timespan with sub-contracted electrical and traffic control firms.
Several questions focused on the end of the project and the median directly in front of North Love’s Store which is used by numerous semi-trucks where turning space is at a premium. The project manager said the median would stay in place and drivers would have to realize there would be delays about being able to leave or merge with current traffic back onto the highway at that point. Brian Long, resident CDOT engineer, explained that two additional 40 foot driveways would be cut into the frontage of the business to allow some more room for semis leaving or entering the gas pump area. Project Superintendent, Scott Alexander explained a safety study showed that taking out that divider median during construction would block traffic with a truck trying to turn north at the light from the parking lot or attempting to bypass Washington Street and turn directly into the pumps when northbound. Another question raised concerns about future parades along Main Street during construction. Only the county fair and December Parade of Lights still uses Main Street as a route while the 9/11 Patriot and Lamar Days parades are now using side streets. Remarks on the project may be emailed to: PublicInfo@accbuilt.com.
By Russ Baldwin
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