On March 19, 2021, Colorado Governor Jared Polis signed SB21-110, which will provide an additional $30 million to support the revitalization of main streets across the state.
This funding will help revitalize communities by improving their downtown roadways and community infrastructure, supporting strong economic activity and public safety.
“Today was an important step forward for Colorado communities. Our main streets and the small businesses that line them are at the very heart of who we are here in Colorado,” said Polis.
“They are where we come together to celebrate and share life’s joys. This last year, we know many Colorado businesses faced incredible challenges and our main streets looked emptier than normal. This bill provides essential resources to help communities make improvements like expanding outdoor seating, adding new lighting, or making sidewalks more accessible. I want to thank the sponsors for their important work to bring this legislation to my desk,” he added.
Gov. Polis was joined by Representative Leslie Herod and Senator Tammy Story, CDOT Executive Director Shoshana Lew, representatives from the city of Golden, and Colorado Transportation Commission Chair Karen Stuart for the bill signing near Miners Alley in downtown Golden. This location is one of the first outdoor dining and lighting projects funded by the Revitalizing Main Streets initiative.
“Colorado’s Main streets are the heart of our communities,” said bill sponsor Rachel Zenzinger, D-Arvada. “With these new funds, we will see our timeless town centers uplifted and restored – preserving their economic and cultural vibrancy for generations to come.”
“Colorado’s main streets have benefited enormously from the Revitalizing Main Streets and Safer Main Streets programs, and I’m proud we were able to give them a boost today,” said Transportation and Local Government Chair Tony Exum, (D-Colorado Springs). “As we work to build back a stronger Colorado, it’s important to invest directly in local and rural economies while ensuring small businesses can continue to grow.”
“The programs we invested in today will create jobs, improve critical infrastructure, and give a leg up to local economies across the state,” said Herod. “We have important projects in towns across the state ready to go, and I’m very pleased that we’ll be able to get them the funding they need.”
The bill provides $30 million in state stimulus funds and allows the Colorado Department of Transportation to expand its Revitalizing Main Streets program and offer safety-focused grants across the state. Communities can apply for small grants up to $150,000 for multimodal and economic resiliency projects or large grants up to $2 million for safety improvements. Small grant applications are available on a rolling basis; large grant applications are due in mid-May.
“The ability to expand this innovative program can help downtown areas stay dynamic and vibrant, even as we all continue to make changes in how we safely live our lives and interact,” said Lew. “In 2020, we worked with communities across the state to get creative and resourceful in our shared desire to enhance safety, improve the local environment, and support economic vitality. We’re also looking forward to establishing partnerships with even more local governments and businesses as we grow the program.”
The Revitalizing Main Streets grant program began last summer in an effort to mitigate the negative economic fallout from the COVID-19 crisis. To date, CDOT has awarded 65 grants. A list of grantees is available here.
“We want communities of all sizes and from every corner of the state to keep thriving,” said Stuart. “This program’s early success and strong demand from local communities shows the need for additional, sustainable resources. On behalf of my colleagues on the Transportation Commission, I thank our legislative champions and Governor Polis for their continued support.”
Safer Main Streets began as a partnership between CDOT and the Denver Regional Council of Governments and was initiated in 2020 to support infrastructure projects that improve safety and accessibility along busier streets in the Denver metro area that are a part of the state highway system. These projects focus on safety elements especially for vulnerable roadway users such as pedestrians, bicyclists, motorcyclists, transit users, the elderly, and those with disabilities. 37 projects have been awarded to date.
Photo shows realtor Jeff Fox in downtown Golden. Photo courtesy of The Fox Group in Golden.