For communities that wish to modify their public infrastructure to promote public health and distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Colorado Department of Transportation is offering $4.1 million for project ideas.

Calling them “quick-win activities,” CDOT describes projects like converting parking spaces to outdoor dining as fostering economic development during the pandemic.

“Since many of our roads are part of the ‘Main Street’ environment through towns and cities, this is an opportunity for us to do our part for healthy communities and a healthy economy,” said the department’s executive director Shoshana Lew about the Revitalizing Main Streets initiative.

Only local governments and transit entities may apply directly for funding. Applicants must be able to start the project quickly, and may apply for a maximum of $50,000. Some of the uses for the money could include reconfiguring streets for biking or walking, expanding sidewalks, reducing speed limits or converting some streets to bicycle and pedestrian-only use.

Sixty percent of the criteria for evaluating each proposal revolve around the promotion of public health and transportation safety. Grantees will need to obtain a temporary special use permit if their projects encroach on state rights of way. As of Thursday, 85 businesses in Denver had been approved for use of adjacent parking lots, streets and sidewalks to accommodate patrons outdoors.

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