Mainstreet, city officials discuss local traffic concerns

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— A city official said Thursday that a shortage of bus drivers could impact not only this winter's transit service, but also long-term transportation planning in Steamboat Springs.

At a meeting of the downtown advocacy group Mainstreet Steamboat Springs to discuss concerns about local congestion, city transportation director George Krawzoff said increasing public transportation is not the only tonic for traffic.

"I don't think transit is a silver bullet, particularly because you can't hire drivers," Krawzoff said.

Earlier this week, the city announced that it likely would have to cut part of its winter bus service because of a shortage of drivers.

Steve Elkins, creator of a bypass proposal for U.S. Highway 40, added that personal habits also stand in the way of transit use.

"You just cannot get people out of their cars," Elkins said.

Krawzoff said intelligent development planning, such as building a grocery store west of downtown Steamboat to eliminate unnecessary cross-town driving, is one of several methods to alleviate Steamboat's growing traffic woes.

Mainstreet heard two similar bypass proposals for U.S. 40 from Elkins and Steamboat resident John Fielding.

Fielding's proposal, called the Emerald Mountain bypass, would take drivers over Howelsen Hill and reconnect with U.S. 40 at Pine Grove Road.

"We're already seeing the quality of life in our town degraded," said Fielding, a design consultant. "There's going to be much more traffic in 10 years, in 15 years. It would be unthinkable for there not to be some other way to take a trip through town."

His plan emphasizes mitigating the visual impact of the bypass with landscaping, but would also require alterations to the Nordic facilities on Howelsen Hill, a sticking point for many Mainstreet members.

Elkins' proposal, which he terms a "reliever road," takes a similar route except it rejoins the highway at Mount Werner Road.

In response to concerns that a bypass might hurt businesses, Elkins, a Prudential realtor and former engineer for Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp., said he thinks of his plan as more of an alternate route for cross-town trips by locals when they have no need to go downtown.

A major shortcoming of either of the routes is that they would put the bypass directly through private property under conservation easements, said Routt County Commissioner Diane Mitsch Bush, who also is vice chairwoman of the Colorado Department of Transportation's Northwest Transportation Planning Region.

Despite obstacles, other mountain resort communities have had success in decreasing local vehicle traffic and with highway bypasses.

Aspen has been successful in keeping vehicle traffic constant since 1993, Krawzoff said. However, he said this success required comprehensive policy solutions including controlling downtown parking capacity, free mass transit, regional transportation, high occupancy vehicle lanes and signal preempts for buses.

Breckenridge's bypass is considered very successful, but it differs from Steamboat in that the road it uses was pre-existing and only required changes to a few intersections, Mitsch Bush said.

- To reach Melinda Dudley, call 871-4203

or e-mail mdudley@steamboatpilot.com

Comments

rodcarew 6 years, 6 months ago

"I don't think transit is a silver bullet, particularly because you can't hire drivers," Krawzoff said.

"You just cannot get people out of their cars," Elkins said.

Naysayer George: Lobby Council to increase the driver pay until it's attractive to people. You of all people should be leading the charge to bring about a widespread change to transit use

Naysayer Elkins: Maybe the folks you hang out with won't get out of their cars, but there are a great many other that would if provided a world class bus system (i.e. every ten minute service, widespread routes, warm and clean bus shelters, GPS location devices to let people know exactly when the next bus will arrive, etc.)

We don't need to reinvent the wheel here, folks. We just need to look at other resort communities who have been addressing this problem for years now.

Council: are we going to actually do something about the traffic problem or are we just going to continue talking about it????????????????

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JQPUBLIC 6 years, 6 months ago

Part of my post on another forum:

This is how government works... they give money to the feel good special interest projects while they convince the taxpayer they haven't enough money for things like bus drivers (better wages) so they will have to cut bus service. The taxpayer will then either live with the service cut or give them more money. THE TAXPAYER is always told their services are in jeopardy (roads, school programs, etc.) the government will NEVER put their discretionary spending on the block. It wouldn't seem quite so bad for them to give away taxpayers money for a party if they weren't trying to raise taxes and cut services. Wake up America, as voters you had better pay attention.

Now it seems they will cut bus service which puts more traffic in town so they can convince the taxpayer the ONLY solution will be a bypass for which they will need more money. Once they get their bypass stmbt will probably figure out a way get the bus service back.

A while back on another forum about the traffic downtown, someone had a plan for one way streets that made a lot of sense, why wouldn't this work?

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corduroy 6 years, 6 months ago

I think they pay rates for drivers currently are fair, but what about health insurance, or help getting a CDL?

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Matthew Stoddard 6 years, 6 months ago

Corduroy- Most prop mngmt companies, at least, offer to pay for CDL training. Health Insurance isn't normally offered for seasonal employees at any job I've encountered, at least.

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wzstfu 6 years, 6 months ago

I think we have to ignore the Mainstreet businesses whining about all of their lost business if a bypass is put through. The people who would be using the bypass are the ones who wouldn't be stopping in town anyway. Once all of the construction downtown is completed (I hope there is an end in sight) a bypass would cut down on the number of trucks that are just trying to get to the other side of town. It would be nice to sit outside at any of the Lincoln Ave restaurants without have to look, hear and smell semi trailers passing by. I have also heard mention of building a road above the existing train tracks. I'm have no idea of what the logistics would be here, but it doesn't sound like a terrible idea. City Council needs to stop talking and start working on solutions. Open up the discussion to the public - we should all be able to submit ideas. Maybe a new city council will let us participate more in our city.

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Matthew Stoddard 6 years, 6 months ago

wzstfu- A bypass would certainly allow traffic that wants to go past, do just that. Sometimes people driving a highway thru a small town have to go to the bathroom, get a bite to eat, etc., and then actually hang out a bit and possibly shop. I think that's part of the concern. (I'm actually for a bypass.) I don't think it's as big a worry as my statement may make it seem, though.

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rodcarew 6 years, 6 months ago

Everyone has ideas about methods to reduce traffic. Here are some to bat around:

  1. Create bypass around downtown (40/129 intersection through hillside, under a portion of Howelsen, daylight near hockey rink, cross over Yampa back onto 40 at a new roundabout)
  2. Institute paid parking downtown to encourage transit use
  3. Widen US 40 east of 13th/Consider HOV lanes through town to incentivize transit use or carpooling
  4. Build grocery store on west side of town
  5. Vastly increase funding to create world class transit system with frequent, convenient, safe, and comfortable service
  6. Increase funding to start a regional transit system with service to Oak Creek, Stagecoach, Hayden, Craig, and Clark
  7. Vastly increase sidewalk funding to create sidewalks everywhere
  8. Require/Incentivize dense, mixed use development around transit stops emphasizing affordable housing
  9. Establish home mail pickup everywhere
  10. Make sure every land use decision in the future considers the implications of traffic generation and only approve projects that have a traffic demand mitigation plan

People will start to utilize transit when getting around by bus is as, or more convenient, then getting around by car. All of these things will cost a lot of money, but things will never get better without action.

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devonclaire 6 years, 5 months ago

Here's an idea: You know all those illegal immigrants that California is simultaneously trying to get rid of and also give driver licenses to?

I'm sure they'd jump at the offer to drive our buses!

Also, why don't more of you lazy young people start getting around the old fashioned way, and just bobsledding everywhere? God. When I was your age, I had to walk six miles uphill and.......(you know the story).

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