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North Main Avenue in Durango, Colorado, which does double duty as state highway 550, is well-known throughout the region as the main thoroughfare from Durango north to Silverton for locals and tourists. The bustling arterial acts as a gateway to the City’s historic downtown and is home to motels, hotels, a variety of restaurants, a few boutique shops, the City’s high school and community center, many gas stations, and more. As an important north-south connection for the San Juan Mountain region, its high traffic volume and heavy usage have impeded its pedestrian-friendliness.

Durango has long been a tourist mecca as a jumping off point to visit the San Juan Mountains and riding the historic Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad.

Animas Mountain 10

Hikers on Animas Mountain in Durango overlook North Main Avenue looking south towards Smelter Mountain. Photo courtesy of Debra Van Winegarden.

Today, Durango desires to reinvent North Main Avenue to be more accessible, walkable and welcoming to all of its users. As such, the City sought out New Mobility West technical assistance to enhance mobility along North Main Avenue to improve safety, increase walking and biking, encourage redevelopment, and enhance the quality of life for the wide variety of people who depend on this major corridor. Partnering with Alta Planning & Design, we worked on a technical assistance project for North Main Avenue.

North Main Avenue is a four-lane thoroughfare that prioritizes vehicular traffic. Although the corridor will always serve as an avenue for motorists and a state highway, the project team explored options to create new options for pedestrians and cyclists – of which many were observed during our site visit. Engaged community members, property owners, business owners and city officials made a wide variety of suggestions to improve public infrastructure, including pedestrian bridges, sidewalk widening and intersection ramp improvements, which encourage people to enjoy all of Durango by foot or bicycle.

This Mobility Plan is the first step in a longer-term City initiative to revitalize and enhance the North Main corridor for the benefit of the entire community. To begin addressing the challenges in the North Main corridor, City staff has proposed to coordinate a multi-phase approach to create a comprehensive North Main Corridor Redevelopment Plan. A number of initiatives will be coordinated to produce an all-inclusive plan for the corridor, with the goal of affecting tangible physical improvements to the area. The City’s technical assistance through New Mobility West is launching this planning process.

Learn more about the project and the people of the town through this video, a part of our On the Ground video series.


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