While many towns are looking for ways to add or widen streets for more vehicular traffic, the town of Dolores is looking to its roots as a largely non-motorized community.
Together with a steering committee, the town government is testing the waters of public opinion to develop a new plan for non-motorized travel both within the town and to provide access to nearby public lands.
Ideas currently include in-town trail/sidewalk loops, a non-motorized trail along the south side of the river downstream from the Fourth Street bridge, a potential pedestrian bridge spanning the river between Joe Rowell Park and an area commonly known as “the beach,” as well as the closing of gaps in the existing river-trail system — which would require seeking collaboration with private property owners along the river.
“We’re a river town, but we don’t showcase the river at all,” said Ryan Mahoney, Dolores town manager.
At a public workshop held June 26, keypad polling was utilized to get a feel for public support on the ideas. More than 25 members of the public participated — approximately 75 percent of which reported they are Dolores residents.
Additionally, a plan is in the works to build a non-motorized trail along the eastern edge of McPhee Reservoir connecting the town to House Creek Recreation Complex and the existing Boggy Draw trail network.
An unprecedented 100 percent of those polled supported the House Creek/Boggy Draw connection trail, with 83 percent saying they would volunteer to build the trail. This would create the possibility of an in-town trailhead for in-town trail networks or the proposed trail connecting the town to popular public lands. Guiding signage, maps and information kiosks were discussed at these locations.
When asked about the most important in-town connection for pedestrians and cyclists, 76 percent identified gaps in the riverside trail, while 40 percent identified connecting neighborhoods to recreation.
Though the meeting was aimed at creating new non-motorized networks, participants admitted to not always using the existing infrastructure. Only 42 percent said they tend to use available sidewalks in the traffic-quiet town, and 75 percent said they use bike lanes. Many said they simply walk or bike in the street, particularly on Riverside Avenue and Central Avenue, which parallel Colorado Highway 145 through town.
The steering committee proposed the idea of an in-town non-motorized loop to connect residential areas to schools, recreation and public service facilities. This could potentially also serve as a historical tour for visitors. This internal non-motorized loop could utilize existing sidewalks and paths with new sidewalks or more-affordable street-side gravel paths to fill in missing gaps. Of those polled at the June meeting, 85 percent supported the idea of an in-town loop.
As far as access to a recreational area at the confluence of the Dolores River and Lost Canyon Creek — commonly known as “the beach” — 87 percent of those present at the meeting said they would support a path along the south side of the river from the Fourth Street bridge, and 52 percent said they would support a pedestrian bridge from Joe Rowell Park.
Those who opposed the bridge said it would obstruct the view or become a target for vandals.
Lastly, in-town pedestrian highway crossings were discussed, with 58 percent of those polled saying they would support traffic-slowing median islands at pedestrian crossings and 45 percent saying they would support visually enhanced crossings. Only six percent said no enhancements were needed.
The steering committee is scheduled to meet throughout the summer, with additional public meetings proposed before a final plan is drafted.
Internet-based polling is also planned, with further information expected to be posted on the town’s web site: townofdolores.com.