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What’s up with Midland?

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As of mid-April, Old Town Basalt is already well into its Midland Avenue Streetscape Project, an initiative that will not only refurbish underground utilities along Midland Ave but give its pavement a significant facelift. However, not all Basalt residents are keen on the project — especially its timeline.

Although it may feel like a recent development, the Streetscape Project was incorporated into a special municipal election on Nov. 2, 2021. This was part of the Basalt Forward 2030 program, designed to implement the goals and priorities set forth in Basalt’s 2020 Master Plan. Of 1,322 votes received, approximately 71% were in favor of using property taxes to improve Basalt’s streetscape.

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The project itself is comprehensive. In terms of utilities, it will replace water, sewer, storm sewer and electric lines, and install new broadband infrastructure. The water and sewer lines are the biggest factor in determining the timeline. Because water flows downhill, the phases will move eastward up Midland Avenue so that the newest storm sewers are always at the bottom of construction. Additionally, difficulty with connecting the old and new water lines means that construction is intended to be as continuous as possible to prevent service interruptions.

Currently, Basalt is in Phase 1 — an overhaul of the Midland Spur — set to be completed around late June. Phase 2 will occur from Midland Mall to Xin Yu Massage and will take place from late May through to the fall. This is the period of greatest contention. Phase 3, which is from Xin Yu to Homestead Drive, will not occur until spring of 2024.

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In terms of surface changes, the project will widen the north side of the sidewalk to 18 feet, making way for outdoor seating. The curb will also be flattened to make both sides more ADA accessible. A center flex lane will remain part of Midland Avenue so businesses can receive deliveries, but some islands with greenery will be added at various intervals — including on the sidewalks. Pedestrian crosswalks will also be widened and made more visible using pavers to improve overall walkability in alignment with the Master Plan’s aim to reduce emissions. However, this leaves out one important piece of the puzzle. Where’s everyone going to park?

Technically speaking, the project will not reduce the number of parking spaces around Old Town Basalt. Phase 1 will actually increase the number of parking spaces on the Midland Spur, but Phase 2 will reduce the number of spaces closest to businesses by converting them from diagonal to parallel parking. In the end, the amount of parking will remain the same, but more spaces will be further from most businesses.

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However, parking will certainly not be improved this summer. During Phase 2, parking will be almost totally unavailable on main Midland. The Town intends to compensate by creating a shuttle service between the middle and elementary schools, as well as increasing the number of WE-cycle bike share stations. In conjunction with the fact that construction will be happening Monday to Friday from 7am to 5pm, Midland businesses fear that this summer will be extremely difficult for them, urging the Town to pause Phase 2.

Many businesses have reiterated in various meetings and letters to the Town that most of their revenue is made during the summer months; in some cases, over triple the amount made during the winter. Still fresh off losses caused during the pandemic, many business owners — along with concerned citizens — have been circulating petitions to pause Phase 2 until the fall, so as to impact traffic as little as possible.

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In various meetings and in various documents, the Town of Basalt has emphasized its reticence about pausing. According to documents found on Let’s Talk Basalt, a public engagement website, for a pause to occur, lready dug 10-foot-deep trenches would have to be refilled and repaved, and once construction resumes, they would be rebroken and excavated. This process would increase the cost of construction and lengthen its schedule by a year or more — meaning downtown Midland would appear to be “under construction” until 2025 or later.

During the March 28 Town Council meeting, Town Manager Ryan Mahoney announced that a contract which includes a summer pause will be put out to bid. This will allow the Town to properly estimate the timeline and cost of pausing construction. As of yet, there has been no update on this bid. Additionally, the Town emphasized that the Sunday Market will still be happening on the Spur this summer, and the Basalt River Park will have a bandshell and a robust live music programming to attract visitors in the evening. 

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To learn more and see renderings of how Midland will look, visit:

Tags: #Basalt #business #construction #infrastructure #Midland Avenue #Ryan Mahoney
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