Officers urge safe Fourth

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— Local law enforcement agencies will be on the lookout for drivers under the influence of alcohol during the Fourth of July holiday weekend.

The Colorado State Patrol will conduct increased patrols across the county throughout the weekend, Trooper Brett Hilling said. The Routt County Sheriff's Office and Steamboat Springs Police Department will have additional officers on shift, as well.

"We expect people to have fun and enjoy their Fourth of July weekend. Drink responsibly if you're going to drink, and have a designated driver or ride the free city bus," Capt. Joel Rae said.

Six people were arrested in Routt County on suspicion of driving under the influence during the Fourth of July enforcement period last year, according to the Colorado Department of Transportation.

In addition to heavy DUI enforcement across the county through the holiday weekend, Steamboat police will have a significant presence at the First National Bank of Steamboat Springs Fourth of July Parade, and at Friday night's fireworks display.

"One of our main concerns is keeping people off of Howelsen Hill," Rae said. "It revolves around safety and fire suppression."

In addition to stepping up presence from its own officers, the Police Department also has contracted with Strong Arm Security to provide additional security on Howelsen Hill and at the Howelsen base area, to deter spectators from getting too close.

"It's not safe," Rae said. "Most of the minimum distances for some of the larger fireworks require people to be back 1,000 to 1,500 feet."

Closed areas at Howelsen will be signed and roped off, and trespassing tickets will be issued to people found in the restricted areas, Rae said.

Police also are asking for people's cooperation and patience with traffic restrictions during downtown events this weekend.

"Traffic is always a major pain," Rae said. "It turns into gridlock every year."

Cars will have to detour around the Lincoln Avenue parade route Friday morning, and traffic control also will be heavy at Howelsen that evening. Cars leaving the area after the fireworks will not be able to turn left from Howelsen Parkway onto Fifth Street, and instead will be routed down River Road.

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