Residents fight traffic trouble

Mountain View Estates neighbors 'need a permanent solution'

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Residents of Mountain View Estates are determined to make North Steamboat Boulevard safer for children on bicycles, and they're equally determined to persuade City Council members to respond to their concerns.

"Part of being a kid is riding your bike down your street," said Cindy Ptach, who lives in the area. "They can't do that up here."

Neighbors say there simply are too many drivers who speed along the neighborhood road.

In one spot, North Steamboat Boulevard curves so sharply that a parabolic mirror has been installed on a post to give motorists approaching from opposite directions an early glimpse of pedestrians and one another. There are no sidewalks in the neighborhood.

Ptach is part of a neighborhood task force to take its traffic issues to the City Council. She acknowledges that city staff and the police department have stepped up patrol efforts.

"They responded to my concerns immediately, and we're very grateful," Ptach said. "But we still struggle with the speed of traffic and continue to be in danger when we want to take a simple walk or bike ride in our neighborhood. We need a permanent solution."

The traffic on the main road in the neighborhood south of Fish Creek Falls Road changed noticeably three years ago. That's when the developers of The Sanctuary subdivision followed through on a promise to the city to build a road connecting the two segments of Steamboat Boulevard. The other section of Steamboat Boulevard begins at Mount Werner Road and used to come to a dead end along the back nine of the Sheraton Steamboat Golf Club.

Motorists can use the road to get from the neighborhoods on Fish Creek Falls Road to the base of the Steamboat Ski Area. And home building in The Sanctuary is adding construction trucks to the growing amount of traffic.

Police Capt. Joel Rae said that he thinks Steamboat Boulevard serves as a bypass to U.S. Highway 40, much like River Road does in another area of the city. Rae said he has drafted a letter to the City Council describing his department's efforts to manage traffic in Mountain View Estates.

"We need to do something," Rae said. "It's a narrow, winding road, particularly in the area of Sundance Court. There's not a lot of room for pedestrians."

For several years, Rae said the police department has dispatched its mobile radar sign to the neighborhood and increased speed enforcement.

"We've issued a lot of tickets and warning tickets up there," he said.

Police officers also have conducted an extensive study of traffic, spending as long as 30 minutes at a time recording the frequency of passing vehicles and the speed at which motorists traveled.

"Based on the surveys, we've learned that less than 7 percent of the vehicles are speeding to a point where it's warranted to issue a warning or speeding ticket," Rae said.

Those numbers confirm to him that he has to balance the need to quiet traffic on North Steamboat Boulevard with police department priorities throughout the city. But he said that doesn't lessen the significance of what residents are experiencing in Mountain View Estates.

"It only takes one speeding vehicle to cause a catastrophe," Rae said. "We know they have issues there, and we will continue to do everything we can to make it safer."

Ptach said the neighbors haven't finalized the language in their requests for the City Council. However, seasonal speed bumps, lower speed limits and a camera designed to catch speeders have been discussed.

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