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City Council deliberates widening Gregory Street

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Special session called to discuss pros/cons of making Gregory Street 2-way

By David Josselyn

  The Central City Council called a special session on September 23, 2013, to evaluate the possibility of widening Gregory Street to alleviate traffic flow issues on Lawrence Street during the water line project. The meeting was called to order by Mayor Ron Engels at 5:00pm. Members present were Mayor Ron Engels, Alderman Shirley Voorhies, and Alderman Glo Gaines.

The Lawrence Street project

  The Lawrence Street construction project will replace the main water line which is showing signs of imminent rupture. There will be traffic lights at either end of Lawrence Street which will be timed at four minute intervals. The traffic disruption will only be Monday through Friday, leaving the busier weekend traffic free to use Lawrence Street as normal. The project is scheduled to last 45 days.

Gregory Street project cost to the city

  City Manager Alan Lanning expounded that the ultimate cost to the city for widening Gregory would be $45,000. This number is derived based on an estimate from the contractor of $60,000 for the total project. The Lawrence Street project has a $21,000 fund for traffic control of which $15k could be transferred to the Gregory widening bringing the cost down to $45k. The City asked DOLA and CDOT to assist with funding, but they declined. The Black Hawk Central City Sanitation District (BHCCSD) offered to fund up to $18k bringing the final cost down to $27k. Lanning said they could ask the casinos to contribute if necessary. Should the council agree to widen Gregory, the entire Lawrence/Gregory project would last 52 days.

Deliberation begins

  Alderman Glo Gaines asked if Gregory Street would stay wide with this proposal so that it could be used at another time if needed. Manager Lanning stated that it would. Mayor Engels then asked what the casinos might be willing to contribute if they are willing to share in the cost. John Zimpel, owner of Johnny Z’s Casino, theorized that since revenues are down for August and September, the fiscal impact to the city will be higher than estimated. Zimpel asked the council to consider installing permanent guard rails on Gregory for safety in the long term. Lanning then offered that if the casinos are willing to contribute $10,000 toward the Gregory project, the city would split the difference with the Sanitation district for $17k each. Lanning volunteered to contact Joe Behm with the Business Improvement District (BID) and see what they are willing to contribute.

Casino Contribution

  The meeting was then adjourned to allow time to contact the BID and reconvened at 7:00pm the same evening. All members were present except Alderman Bob Spain. City Manager Alan Lanning reviewed the facts and added that the casinos were willing to contribute $6,000 at this time. The BID would contribute $5k and the rest would be given by Johnny Z’s. Alderman Kathy Heider asked if there is a long term benefit to the City for the widening of Gregory which Manager Lanning replied that it could be of use in the future for any street or line problems. Alderman Heider also inquired if it is possible to widen Gregory within the limits of the road. Manager Lanning responded that the road can be expanded to 24 feet all the way except for one area just east of the Reserve Casino. Mayor Engels then stated that the $6,000 contribution from the casinos is “disappointing with the amount of loss that they have projected,” and he “would have expected more investment” from them.

The narrow decision

  Alderman Voorhies moved to retain the original plan with traffic lights and flaggers for traffic control on the Lawrence Street Water/Sewer Line Project and was seconded by Alderman Heider. The motion was passed unanimously.

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