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Longmont restaurants worry expiring street space may leave winter business plans in the cold

Posted at 5:30 PM, Oct 16, 2020
and last updated 2021-01-05 17:06:33-05

LONGMONT, Colo. — Drivers might find the cement barriers on Longmont's Main Street to be a burden, but restaurant owners say they are keeping their businesses thriving.

"It creates community," said Andrea Bullard, co-owner of La Vita Bella. "In these times, it has meant being able to host our customers safely in a way that they feel comfortable."

The barriers have allowed several restaurants to take advantage of two street lanes normally designated for traffic. Though it can get noisy, it keeps people safe.

"It has been interesting to see what other people do with their space," explained Bullard. "People want to see each other. And this, again, has given people the opportunity to do that."

But the winter months are fast approaching, and as the warmth disappears, the barriers will likely disappear as well. City officials say they need the space for crucial traffic, emergency, and snow removal lanes.

"We are going to have those driving snow events or those heavy snow events where we are really going to need to make sure those roads are kept clear," explained Longmont Transportation Planning Manager Phil Greenwald. "We are going to really need to make sure that those roads are kept clear and we have places to store the snow as well."

But the business owners say their plans won't be frozen out without a fight. Bullard created an online petition with her husband to lobby the city to keep the lanes closed.

"Within a few hours, we had a hundred-and-some-odd signatures. The next day we had double that," said Bullard. "I need to be able to put something out there and to be able to ask for what we need. For what our patrons would like."

Transportation planners with the city say the barriers will likely need to be moved, regardless of objections, as the winter weather makes road travel more dangerous.

"We really want to take it back onto the sidewalk and create more space on the sidewalks for these types of things to happen," said Greenwald. "We just want to remove that hazard as we move into those winter months here."