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Boulder reopening stretch of Pearl Street to traffic as COVID-19 emergency ends

Barriers at Pearl Street in Boulder
Posted at 5:22 PM, Sep 07, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-07 19:36:29-04

BOULDER, Colo. — A set of concrete barriers on the west end of Boulder's Pearl Street will soon be a reminder of what once was.

"We just feel like, from a legal perspective, the justification for closing the street does not exist anymore," City of Boulder spokesperson Sarah Huntley said Wednesday.

An emergency order that allowed restaurants to use the space between 9th and 11th streets for outdoor dining since the beginning of the pandemic has come to an end.

"Fortunately, we are seeing big improvements in terms of COVID," Huntley said.

Boulder reopening stretch of Pearl Street to traffic as COVID emergency ends

As soon as the city has the resources to move the barriers — possibly as soon as next week — the section will reopen to traffic to the joy of many of the restaurant owners in the area.

Audrey Quistorff, a partner at Big Red F Restaurant Group, which owns spots like Centro, says the closure served its purpose, and it's time to return to normal.

"Things have changed, and we'd like the street opened again," she said. "The street closures hurt our business. It's hurt our sales a little bit because we're not accessible to all of our diners who want to drive or park or Uber [or use the] bus routes."

Not everyone is on board, however. Huntley said many have expressed to the city that they enjoyed, for example, the ability to walk with the street closed. But Chip, CEO of Downtown Boulder Partnership, argues that's why the Pearl Street Mall a few blocks down exists.

"We can activate the street, close it on weekends and in the summer, but all of that needs to be studied. In the meantime, there's no reason to keep it closed for the winter," he said. "The restaurants would like to see traffic back and see people coming back into the stores."

For now, expect the stretch of road to reopen, with conversations about what to do next planned for the future.

"Maybe we'll end up in a middle ground. Maybe we'll end up with it always being closed. Maybe we'll end up with it always being open. We don't know yet," Huntley said.

City council members will have a discussion about the change at a meeting on Thursday, Sept. 15. Restaurant owners within the area still have the option to use the city's parking spaces for outdoor dining as part of an ongoing pilot program.