City testing crosswalk timers at 6 intersections

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— It may not be any easier to cross Lincoln Avenue in downtown Steamboat Springs this month than it was in July. But at least pedestrians have a new way of knowing how good their chances are.
At five key intersections in downtown Steamboat, plus a sixth between downtown and the ski mountain, pedestrians are now aided by "countdown lights" that tell them how many seconds they have remaining to cross the street.
The countdown lights were installed at the controlled intersections of Lincoln and Third, Fifth, Seventh, Eighth and Ninth streets by the Colorado Department of Transportation.
The final countdown light is at the intersection of U.S. 40 and Pine Grove Road. It was installed as part of intersection improvements that were required of the Mid Valley Business Center, Public Works Director Jim Weber said.
CDOT had previously installed similar countdown lights in places like Gunnison, Grand Junction, Aspen and Glenwood Springs.
"These are the best things we have as far as pedestrian comfort and safety goes," Jim Nall said. He is CDOT's Region 3 traffic safety manager based in Grand Junction.
The countdown light at Fifth Street was flashing a message on Tuesday that pedestrians had 21 seconds to cross Lincoln Avenue, once the walk light lit up. At 14 seconds, the walk light changed to a flashing orange hand, signifying that no additional pedestrians should enter the intersection.
When the countdown reached zero, another three seconds elapsed before motorists on Fifth Street saw their green light change to yellow, and approximately another three seconds before the light turned red.
The countdown lights are fitted with black hoods that obstruct the view of motorists waiting for the light to change on Lincoln, who might be tempted to use them like the "Christmas trees" at drag strips.
Weber pointed out that Third Street is the only controlled intersection in downtown Steamboat that has a button for pedestrians to signal that they wish to cross. All of the other traffic signals are timed off of Third Street, he added.
In a related matter, Nall said CDOT and the city of Steamboat recently completed a $15,000 traffic light study on Lincoln to maximize the timing of the stoplights to meet current traffic flows, both on Lincoln and the various side streets.
Nall said he wants to hear from Steamboat motorists to learn whether or not they've noticed an improvement as a result of the newly timed lights, or even if they think their ease of driving through Steamboat remains unchanged or has deteriorated since the beginning of the summer.
Comments from readers who visit Steamboat Today's readers forum, or from e-mail messages to the editorial staff, will be passed along to Nall.
He said the goal of the traffic signal study was to time the stoplights to minimize the average delays experienced by motorists.
Weber said city and CDOT crews are still tweaking the timing. But, for motorists who adhere to the 25 mph speed limit on Lincoln, the amount of time spent waiting at stoplights should be reduced.
Those who drive faster will catch up to backed-up traffic at intersections sooner, and may not notice as much benefit, he said.


To reach Tom Ross call 871-4210, or e-mail tomross@amigo.net

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