Steamboat Springs The Steamboat Springs City Council wants to have its traffic light and build one, too.
At its meeting Tuesday, council members unanimously selected a new layout for Lincoln Avenue, which would be constructed when the Colorado Department of Transportation conducts a complete overhaul of U.S. Highway 40 through downtown Steamboat Springs beginning in fall 2009. The plan originally included the replacement of a traffic light at Eighth Street with one at 11th Street, but on the recommendation of Public Works Director Philo Shelton, council members decided there would be no harm in at least asking CDOT whether they could have both.
Although there was consensus that something needs to be done to make Lincoln Avenue crossings safer between Ninth and 13th streets, council members and members of the public were loathe to lose the Eighth Street crossing at the core of downtown.
"It is a loss that would be very difficult for downtown," said Mainstreet Steamboat Springs President Towny Anderson, noting the proximity of a movie theater and a public parking lot at Eighth and Oak streets.
The layout chosen by council also includes the relocation of bus stops to bays on the downstream side of traffic signals and sidewalks that "bulb out" at intersections to shorten the street-crossing distance for pedestrians. Both additions will result in the loss of some on-street parking spaces. The configuration and width of the street's lanes will remain unchanged.
Concerns were expressed about the difficulties the sidewalk extensions could create for snow removal, but a desire to increase pedestrian friendliness won out.
"The improvement in pedestrian experience far outweighs the adverse effect on snowplows," Anderson said.
After acknowledging that he previously opposed bulb-outs for years, City Council President Loui Antonucci joined the unanimous decision.
"I'm finally to the point where I'm willing to try it," Antonucci said. "We need to do something to make downtown Steamboat more pedestrian friendly.
Also Tuesday, members of the Education Fund Board, who are requesting that the city put a question on the November ballot extending a half-cent city sales tax for education, addressed council. Council members were mostly receptive to a Fund Board recommendation to create a mechanism to share some of the tax revenues with Hayden and South Routt schools. In the coming weeks and months, city and Fund Board officials will decide whether the ballot measure should be presented as one question or two.