Fruita construction and renovations in full swing
Special to the Free Press
Fruita is undergoing several construction projects this summer and fall, including a new interstate exit and downtown renovation.
Construction on Aspen Avenue started just over two weeks ago, with a face-lift for the intersection at Aspen and Peach Street. Renovations further west at Mulberry Street began on Monday.
“It’s causing some issues with our walk-in trade,” said Kim Pease, owner of Kim’s Auto Parts. “We’re trying to get the word out that (customers) can access us.”
Although the improvements apply primarily to the intersections downtown, construction will also allow for local businesses to do some revamping of their own.
“We’re bumping the sidewalk out, so it’s narrowing the street and increasing pedestrian seating and retail area,” Sam Atkins, City Engineer, explained. “It’s also creating shorter distances for safer crosswalks.”
The renovations will provide restaurants and breweries downtown, including No Coast Sushi, Camilla’s Kaffe, Copper Club Brewing Company and Suds Brothers Brewery, with the opportunity for outdoor seating.
“It’s going to be great for us,” said Camilla Smith, owner of Camilla’s Kaffe. “We’re just looking forward to a really busy fall.”
Along with on-the-surface improvements, the downtown streetscape project will also improve Fruita’s electrical system and cost, according to City Manager Mike Bennett.
“We spent quite a bit on actual generator power,” Atkins added. “It should save money from an electrical standpoint, and it’s much more convenient.”
The project is contracted at $501,547, which includes a $225,000 grant from the Department of Local Affairs (DOLA) Energy/Mineral Impact Assistance Fund. Construction is set to be completed by Sept. 18, or, at the latest, Sept. 24—the day before Fruita Fall Festival begins.
Fruita’s Little Salt Wash Trail is also looking at improvements, with advertising for construction bids starting Sept. 1.
“We’re going to build and extend that trail where it goes under the interstate, under the railroad and it connects on the west side of the state park,” Bennett said, “and then the state park is building a paved trail through to C340, or to their entryway.”
The current budget for the project is $1,023,250, including a $654,000 Enhancement Grant from the Colorado Department of Transportation and a $200,000 GOCO Trails grant from Great Outdoors Colorado.
“Our trails get used a lot throughout the city, but this one will have more of a mix of recreational (functions)—riding bikes, walking, running. It has added benefits because it creates a connection between the north and south sides of Fruita,” Bennett said. “It creates a longer connection of our already existing paved trail system in town.”
Renovations to Little Salt Wash Trail are projected to be completed by the end of the calendar year.
According to Bennett, the city wrote and received a grant earlier this year to enhance the gateway, or main interstate exit, of Fruita, with the hopes of creating an entry that welcomes those coming into Colorado from the west and guides visitors to what the city has to offer. This time, however, they’re trying something new.
“Instead of spending money on an outside consultant to tell us how to design our gateway, we have a lot of creative and passionate individuals in our community that have plenty of ideas,” Bennett said. “Our hope is to gain what the theme should be and maybe some feedback on how to shape that design.”
The city is currently working with the University Technical Assistant (UTA) program at the University of Colorado in Denver to compile packets for distribution at local businesses, where residents can draw or write ideas down, as well as a website for digital submission. UTA will then gather all the input and create conceptual designs based on the feedback received.
“We’re doing all we can to get grant funds to leverage the small capital budget we have every year to do big projects,” Bennett said. “Our big priorities are merging quality of life for the residents, continuing to have the tourism base that really helps our economy and economic development. We really see those three things merging as one.”
Ideas for Fruita’s gateway improvements will be available for submission starting Sept. 21 through the end of October.
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UPDATE: Both westbound lanes and one eastbound lane of Interstate 70, according to a 12:20 a.m. update from Garfield County.