Police cracking down on speeders

Brooklyn residents concerned with amount of traffic on River Road

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— Motorists driven by their lead feet might want to pay more attention to their speedometers when they pass through Steamboat's historic Brooklyn neighborhood.

Local law enforcement is heavily patrolling the popular thoroughfare, known as River Road, for the next few days.

County Road 14, which intersects with Colorado 131, becomes River Road at the beginning of the Brooklyn neighborhood.

Assistant Police Chief Art Fiebing said heightened police presence comes in response to residents' concerns about high-speed traffic that endangers their children, pedestrians and bicyclists.

"We are going to write as many tickets there as we possibly can," he said.

Several residents began meeting last year to discuss ways to bring their concerns to the attention of town officials and law enforcement.

Steamboat police responded by heavily patrolling River Road every few months to catch speeding motorists.

Fiebing said the most recent round of heightened patrolling began Wednesday.

The narrow road, with its absence of sidewalks, only intensifies the safety threat to children who play along the busy street, he said.

"That's a tragedy waiting to happen," he said. "It's just a tough situation with the way things are."

Because River Road stems from a county road, questions remain over who should be responsible for the safety of people who use River Road.

The Routt County Sheriff's Office fields many requests to patrol particular county roads, Sergeant Troy McDaniel said.

County police routinely patrol C.R. 14, he added.

"I can't necessarily say that we prioritize it more than other county road," he said. "We try to be consistent with all of them."

Lou Gabos, with the county's Road and Bridge Department, said the county has maximized signage use in the area.

A 30 mph advisory sign placed before the S-curve that leads into the Brooklyn neighborhood cautions motorists to slow down, he said.

The speed limit throughout the neighborhood is 25 mph.

Two summers ago, Routt County paved the section of C.R. 14 that runs from the Tree Haus subdivision to an already paved River Road and Brooklyn neighborhood.

Some residents complain road improvements only encouraged motorists to drive faster.

The gravel road, with its potholes and uneven surface, they say, forced people to take C.R. 14 slowly, thereby preventing higher speeds when motorists reached the paved residential area.

Gabos disagrees the paving project promoted speeding.

Vehicle speeds have actually slowed down since the section of C.R. 14 was paved, he said.

The gravel road encouraged speeding, he said, because no median existed to keep vehicles on one side of the road.

Motorists could tear down C.R. 14 as fast as they pleased when no center stripe existed to keep them in their own lane, he said.

Stripes on the paved road now force vehicles to one side of the road, he said.

Because the county road is narrow, motorists are slowed down even more when confined to a smaller section of road, Gabos said.

A paved road also reduces maintenance costs for Routt County, he said.

Motorists now encounter less wear and tear on their vehicles than when they drove over potholes and uneven surfaces, he said.

"It's more user-friendly," he said.

Gabos said the county's Road and Bridge Department has done all it can to promote the safety of motorists and residents along C.R. 14.

"It's a law enforcement problem," Gabos said.

Greg Nealy understands law enforcement is stretched.

Nealy, a resident of the Brooklyn neighborhood, said he appreciates the efforts of Steamboat Springs police to patrol River Road.

But some residents have given up on hoping excessive speed can be curbed in their neighborhood, he said.

"We've lost the road," he said. "It's basically becoming a freeway."

Parents worry about the safety of their children, and people often avoid walking or biking along the road, he added.

Nealy estimates traffic increased 200 percent when pavement replaced gravel on C.R. 14.

"It's just a license to drive as fast as you'd like," he said.

As development continues in areas like the Tree Haus subdivision and Dakota Ridge, more motorists will access the county road instead of U.S. 40, he said.

That means higher traffic pouring through what was once a quiet neighborhood, Nealy said.

"This isn't a tourist problem," he said. "These are locals that don't have the consideration to slow down.

"It's a safety thing for us."

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