Steamboat Springs For the third time in less than a year, the speed limit has changed for motorists traveling eastbound on U.S. 40 just outside of downtown Steamboat Springs.
Last summer at the urging of city officials, the Colorado Department of Transportation changed the speed limit from 45 mph to 25 mph at the point where people are leaving downtown.
This past March, CDOT officials reversed their decision and put the speed limit back to 45 mph.
But last week, the speed limit was decreased to 35 mph after CDOT and city officials were able to work out an agreement.
Although U.S. 40 is the main thoroughfare for Steamboat Springs, the highway is regulated by the state agency.
With the new change, the speed limit increases from 25 mph to 35 mph as motorists travel up the hill as they are leaving downtown.
The speed limit later increases to 45 mph on U.S. 40 between Trafalgar and Anglers drives.
The reason for the change is CDOT agreed with city officials in that a transition speed is needed between the two speed limits, 25 and 45.
"Thirty-five is a balancing act," CDOT spokesman Bob Wilson said of the new speed limit. "It is a transition speed limit."
City officials were requesting a lower speed limit because of the amount of complaints city officials receive about speeding motorists.
"We get a lot of complaints that people are speeding through there like crazy," said J.D. Hays, Steamboat Springs director of public safety.
The city was also against the 45 mph speed limit starting just after downtown because of the number of pedestrians who attempt to cross the street in that area.
City officials were in favor of lowering the speed limit to provide safety for pedestrians coming from the Rabbit Ears Motel, Rich Weiss Park and the bus stop.
Many pedestrians cross the street from this area to get to the Steamboat Springs Health and Recreation Center.
"The locals knew the speed limit was 45 and they would start to exceed the speed limit from Third Street," said Jim Weber, the city's public works manager. "This was a hazard. It was a safety concern."
Weber also believes the change was needed because it matches the speed limits for westbound traffic heading into downtown, he said.
Initially, CDOT set the speed limit at 45 because of engineering and traffic study records.
After re-examining the issue recently with city officials, CDOT decided to reduce the speed limit.
"Instead of having a jump in speed, we put in something more gradual," Wilson said. "To go from 25 to 45 was too much of an increase."
"We felt 45 was too fast," he said. "This is a compromise."
Wilson believes motorists can get used to the speed limits in these areas for the time being. The only way the speed limits could change in this area would depend on growth and traffic studies, he said.
"I assume for right now, we have it straightened out," Wilson said. "It should remain the way it is for some time."