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Longmont Officials Start Assessing How Main Street Corridor Can Be Improved Throughout City

October 11, 2018

Waitress Tressa Tomayo serves lunch at Aunt Alice's Kitchen, 1805 Main St., on Wednesday. Longmont officials have begun forming a plan with the goal of fortifying the corridor as a cultural and commercial center

If you go

What: Residents invited to be heard on Main Street Corridor Plan

When: 5-7 p.m. Nov. 7

Where: Longmont Museum, 400 Quail Road

Cost: Free

More info: Visit bit.ly/MainStreetCorridor

Change will come to Longmont’s Main Street throughout the city as part of a plan public officials have just begun forming with the goal of fortifying the corridor as a cultural and commercial center.

Longmont officials have identified four sections of a one-to-three-block area on either side of Main Street between the city’s northern and southern borders at Colo. 66 and Plateau Road, respectively, each with distinct characteristics, needs and opportunities for improvements.

An initial presentation of the city’s Main Street Corridor Plan shown to the city’s Transportation Advisory Board on Monday outlined the four separate sections of Main, which have been dubbed “character areas” by city staff.

The road’s northernmost character area runs from Colo. 66 to 17th Avenue; the middle northern section from 17th to 11th avenues; the historic downtown area from 11th Avenue to the St. Vrain River forms the middle southern section; and the southernmost area runs from the St. Vrain to Plateau Road.

Longmont’s website lists seven goals for the Main Street corridor, such as embracing the road’s historic significance to automobile culture — slow cruising in hot rods and muscle cars was traditionally popular on Main Street until the activity was banned by city council in 2006 because it led to negative effects such as street racing.

Other goals of the plan include revitalizing the corridor through more infill development; new housing and urban open space; improving the safety and mobility of the corridor for cyclists and pedestrians, as well as motorists; and leveraging future bus rapid transit investments by placing stops around activity centers and forming new mobility hubs.

“It’s too soon to say what type of revitalization will take place or what things will be implemented where. We are just in the initial stages, which really involves looking at existing conditions and getting initial community feedback,” Longmont Principal Planner Erin Fosdick said.

City staff hopes improvements on and near Main coincide with the implementation of bus rapid transit through the corridor from Colo. 66 to First Avenue, as well as upgrades to bicycling infrastructure envisioned for 21st Avenue, Collyer Street, 17th Avenue, Kimbark Street from Ninth to Mountain View avenues, and on Third Avenue west to Kimbark Street and south onto Second Avenue across Main.

Reducing traffic congestion on Main to speed up trips from the northern parts of the city is desired by Dermatology Center of the Rockies owner Kristin Baird, whose business is on Main just north of Pike Road.

“I have a lot of patients that come from north, and I hear that it takes a long time to get through Longmont now,” Baird said. “There has to be some sort of bypass other than having to go through that downtown.”

The plan also aims to “attract and retain diverse ranges of businesses and housing to strengthen the corridor,” the city website states.

But at least one downtown business owner, Rolf Exner of Rolf’s Motorcycle Shop, fears additional public investment will expedite private redevelopment efforts, and thus, cut short the lives of small businesses like his that are renting space in their current locations.

″(Cities) lose the flavor they first buy into — the little shops, the quietness and not the rush of life,” Exner said. “The same was in Longmont, and it will change very quickly.”

He also said he believes too many car dealership businesses line Main, and hopes some relocate as the city’s plan comes to fruition, with Baird echoing the sentiment.

Transportation Advisory Board member Scott Conlin said the two northern character areas are similar, but not entirely the same since the Colo. 66 to 17th Avenue stretch of Main is more challenging for pedestrians to cross because it has more “superblocks,” or long sections without a pedestrian crosswalk on Main.

“We have a large number of pedestrian crashes in this area, and I look forward to a design that helps to protect pedestrians to be able to cross Main Street more safety and easily,” Conlin said in a text message.

The planning effort for the Main Street corridor is expected to last through summer 2019.

Residents are invited to provide feedback on the Main Street Corridor Plan at a meeting from 5 to 7 p.m. Nov. 7 at the Longmont .

Sam Lounsberry: 303-473-1322, slounsberry@prairiemountainmedia.com and twitter.com/samlounz .

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