by Larry Patrick
WALSENBURG- The Memorial Day weekend is upon us and with it comes lots of traffic in and through Walsenburg. This summer Main Street will be even more hectic because of roadwork on I-25 beginning after Memorial Day that will detour traffic through downtown Walsenburg.
The detour can be beneficial to Walsenburg if citizens and businesses help to make it so. The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) will do its part to make the increased traffic manageable. Here are some of the changes that will occur beginning next week.
CDOT will put in left turn lanes on Main Street at 3rd and 6th Streets. With the increased traffic through downtown, including many more big trucks, making lefthand turns onto Main Street will also be difficult. So if local drivers can avoid lefthand turns, it will prevent backups, especially on Sixth Street. The reason for turn lanes at Third is to help the fire department get out.
Police will monitor delivery trucks wanting to park in the roadway downtown to deliver merchandise to businesses. Such vehicles won’t be allowed to stop traffic that will already be congested. These vehicles will need to park on side roads or use the alleys to deliver their goods to Main Street businesses. Businesses involved with such vendors should notify them of the situation.
Pedestrians will need to be cautious and cross at the two stoplight intersections on Main Street. With even more trucks coming through town, visibility will be worse than ever for other motorists. Traffic lights may be adjusted for better traffic flow and flaggers may also be used to push traffic through at busy intersections.
Parking is always an issue in downtown Walsenburg. With the opportunity for more tourists to stop and shop, it is even more imperative that businesses help themselves. Parking spaces can be gold for businesses this summer. So merchants and their employees should consider parking behind their stores, on side streets or in available lots such as Heritage Park by the train depot.
Residents of Walsenburg can help local businesses by observing the two-hour parking rules downtown to keep parking spaces open for others. Another possibility is for more of us to take the new Circulator buses that have routes through the city. In most cases, it costs only a dollar. You can’t start your car for less than that. Walking is also a great exercise instead of driving.
The Chamber of Commerce will now be open seven days a week at the train depot at Heritage Park, across from the courthouse. If you don’t know the answer to a question from a visitor, guide them to the Chamber for information. If you need to brush up on things to see and do around here, go to the Chamber and find out.
Many people who travel north and south on I-25 think the city limits begin and end at the interstate and that Walsenburg includes only the few houses they see on the hill. For many, it will be a first glimpse of downtown Walsenburg. It can spur shopping now and in the future. That’s important to all of us.
The business generated locally from local shoppers and tourists will enhance our community. Helping tourists to shop locally helps all of us with increased sales tax revenues for our local needs.
Running a small business is time-consuming and hard. Yet, with the increased traffic through downtown, being open longer hours or on Sundays could prove to be financially rewarding if enough businesses participate. Not all businesses are tourist oriented but having driving and walking traffic can benefit many. One big sale can make your day or week or month.
All of us can help by putting a big smile on our faces, assisting visitors and being positive and proud of our community.