Dodge City celebrates 150 years (Courtesy: Dodge City Days Committee)

DODGE CITY, Kan. (KSNW) — On Monday, the day that Dodge City was celebrating its 150th anniversary, city leaders were also looking to the future as the Dodge City Commission unanimously approved the Downtown Streetscape Project.

The project’s goal is to revitalize the historic downtown area. The $13.9 million effort is expected to start this fall and take about two-and-a-half years to complete.

Designers kept in mind that the town has a rich Old West history.

The focal point of the project is a western-inspired plaza at Second Avenue and Front Street that will serve as a gathering space. A plaza street with improved traffic control for community events will be created on Second Avenue from Front Street to Gunsmoke Street.

Other improvements include updating utility services, landscaping, lighting, new sidewalks, and reconstructing streets with raised intersections to create safe, slow-speed crossings for pedestrians.

There will also be a new walking/bicycle trail from Third Avenue to Central Avenue.

The City got input from the community and downtown business owners before approving the plan.

“Strengthening and revitalizing our downtown were two objectives supported strongly by our citizens in our Dodge City 2030, Comprehensive Plan,” City Manager Nick Hernandez. “This project goes a long way towards accomplishing both of those objectives.”

Building Solutions, LLC, was selected as the construction manager at risk and prime contractor. The design team for the project was TranSystems and LK Architecture.

“The revitalization of Dodge City’s historic downtown is an essential part of the Dodge City STAR (Sales Tax And Revenue) Bond project,” said Mayor Kent Smoll. “The 50-year-old streetscape and the 100-plus-year-old brick streets and utilities are well beyond their useful life, and it shows. Downtown has been a regional and international draw, and the recent expansion of the Boot Hill Museum has increased the influx of visitors to our community. In its current condition, our historic downtown is hampering economic development and failing to meet the expectations of our visitors and citizens alike.”

The money for the project comes from STAR Bonds, a Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT) Cost Share Grant, American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds, and debt issuance by the City of Dodge City.