- Thursday, January 31, 2008, 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.
- Centennial Hall, 124 10th St., Steamboat Springs
Steamboat Springs The public's last chance to comment on a plan that will guide future access to U.S. Highway 40 is tonight.
In their second public open house, consultants from Stolfus & Associates will present a draft of their West Steamboat Springs U.S. 40 Access Plan. Engineering consultant Michelle Hansen said tonight's feedback will be incorporated into a final plan.
In its draft form, the access plan recommends several techniques for improving travel on U.S. 40, such as eliminating some of the current accesses to the highway and removing turning vehicles from through traffic lanes. Hansen said the access plan would help the city in future efforts to seek approval and funding from the Colorado Department of Transportation for improvements on U.S. 40.
Diane Mitsch Bush is a Routt County commissioner and a member of CDOT's northwest transportation planning region. While the city's plan involves land mostly within city limits, Mitsch Bush said it is of great interest to the county as well.
"Certainly I think access management plans are very useful, particularly as we grow," Mitsch Bush said. "It's really important to have a plan, and it's really important, as the city is doing, to have public involvement."
The access plan deals strictly with U.S. 40 from 13th Street to just west of the Steamboat II subdivision in Routt County. Hansen said some members of the public have raised concerns about how many traffic signals the plan might call for in that stretch. Hansen said traffic signals would only be possible at locations where the plan calls for "full-movement intersections," meaning motorists approaching the intersection from any direction could turn in any direction.
The draft plan calls for about 20 such intersections, but Hansen noted that doesn't mean all of them will see a traffic signal. Operational controls would only be added when traffic volume called for it and might be achieved through a roundabout or interchange rather than a traffic signal.
"That would be determined as the intersection was improved and the access management plan was implemented," Hansen said.
Business owners have also expressed concerns about the draft plan's calls for the elimination of dozens of the direct accesses to U.S. 40 that currently exist. While understanding such concerns, Mitsch Bush said the better traffic flow would ultimately be beneficial to businesses.
"There will still be access, it just won't be at as many points," she said.
"Access management has proved to provide some safe, easy accesses for different businesses," Hansen added.
The access management process is occurring parallel to several other transportation-related discussions. The city also is engaged in a capacity study looking at the potential widening of U.S. 40 west of 13th Street and has contracted with a consultant to look at enhancing downtown streetscapes. There are ever-lingering calls for a Steamboat bypass to relieve downtown congestion. And at the state level, Gov. Bill Ritter on Wednesday released the final report of his Blue Ribbon Transportation Panel, which calls for a bigger statewide investment in transportation.