Lake Avenue was once the main thoroughfare for the south side of Pueblo, but in recent decades has come under blight and disrepair.
To its rescue? The Urban Renewal Authority of Pueblo is providing most of the funding for an estimated $6 million-$8 million construction project that will upgrade Lake Avenue between St. Mary-Corwin Medical Center and Pueblo Boulevard. The large undertaking began in mid-2011 and is expected to be completed by early 2013.
“This is one of the oldest streets in town, and businesses located along Lake Avenue have suffered through a lot over the years because the road hasn't received any attention with regard to beautification,” says John Batey, executive director with the Urban Renewal Authority of Pueblo. “But even more important, there has been a serious flooding issue associated with Lake Minnequa that runs along the avenue. Lake Avenue has long been prone to flooding due to stormwater drainage problems and sewer drainage problems, and we're happy to see that some major attention is finally being given to this area.”
Narrowing of the Roadway
Batey says even the side streets connected to Lake Avenue have been prone to flooding, so larger pipes will be installed underground to alleviate future flooding issues caused by the rising of Lake Minnequa.
“The avenue will see extensive tearing up of asphalt and intersections, but since the road is being reconstructed we decided to take this opportunity to also add some streetscape modifications for the sake of beautification,” he says. “That includes street furnishings and an actual narrowing of the avenue itself because it's too wide for the traffic needs of today. So to narrow the avenue, a landscaped median will be added along the entire length from the hospital to Pueblo Boulevard.”
Met with Business Owners
Batey says prior to starting the construction project, the Urban Renewal Authority first organized a series of public meetings with the business owners who were all in agreement that something needed to be done to improve Lake Avenue.
“Even though they will be inconvenienced during the construction process, the Urban Renewal Authority is pushing the contractor to move as quickly as possible to minimize the negative effect,” he says.
In the meantime, Lowe's Home Improvement recently established a large store on the south side at Pueblo Boulevard and Prairie Avenue, and Batey hopes that revitalizing Lake Avenue will spur other big companies to locate on the south side.
“The upgrade of Lake Avenue is long overdue and there are so many positive aspects to this project,” he says. “One of the oldest streets in Pueblo is about to become one of the newest, and should really help bolster economic development in that part of Pueblo.”
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