Two "road closed" signs are creating a barricade between the city of Steamboat Springs and the owners of a local auto supply store.
Last week, city employees put up two signs and cement barricades in front of the NAPA Auto Parts store on west U.S. Highway 40. The barricades block direct access from U.S. 40 to the store's parking lot. Instead, customers must use the parking lot entrance off Downhill Drive.
The move angered Sue and Lee Anderson, who own the store. The Andersons paid for an advertisement in Thursday's Steamboat Today that hints that the barricades have made the entrance to the store less safe.
Not so, said Jim Weber, the city's director of public works. Weber said the driveway is so close to the road that it is dangerous; the Andersons say the driveway came with the building and should remain open.
"We bought it that way. We paid for it. We'd like to keep it," Sue Anderson said Thursday.
The argument has been ongoing for at least 14 years.
"We've been going back and forth on this driveway access for years," Weber said.
According to a 1992 city letter, a development permit the Andersons submitted was approved with certain conditions. One of those conditions was that the store's driveway be abandoned and replaced with access off Downhill Drive. The store now has access from the U.S. 40 driveway and from Downhill Drive.
Sue Anderson said the city never enforced the condition, so they left the driveway open.
She also acknowledged that the driveway is dangerous but that "people have been so used to it, it wasn't a problem. Everyone knew to be careful."
"As we continue to have development in that area, we are seeing an increase in traffic at that intersection, and a driveway that close to an intersection is nothing but a problem because drivers at both sides are trying to figure out where the other is going. It's very confusing for drivers at that intersection," Weber said.
Weber said the city was working with Colorado Department of Transportation officials, who asked the city to put up the signs and barricades. Sue Anderson said the city instigated the driveway closure. A CDOT spokeswoman said state officials planned to meet today to discuss the issue; additional information was not available Thursday afternoon.
The newspaper advertisement paid for by the Andersons states that an accident occurred in front of the NAPA store the day after the city put up the barricades. Sue Anderson said the accident occurred because a driver could not see over the barricades. Police accident reports state that one of the drivers could not see past a vehicle that was in the way.
Downhill Drive provides a better entrance to the NAPA store because it is a controlled, defined intersection, which will eliminate or reduce the confusion of drivers, Weber said.
"We are finally to the point of getting it closed off and hopefully creating a safe situation at that location," he said.
Sue Anderson, who questioned the availability of viable solutions, indicated she won't pursue any other action to change the city's decision.
"You can't fight City Hall," she said. "I'm not gonna fight it anymore."