Bypasses to parking garages

Council considers it all in Lincoln Avenue discussions

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— From bike lanes to paid parking, the Steamboat Springs City Council considered a number of "scandalous things" - as councilwoman Cari Hermacinski called them - in a discussion of possible changes to Steamboat's main thoroughfare Tuesday.

The Colorado Department of Transportation plans a major reconstruction of U.S. Highway 40 through downtown Steamboat Springs, where it is known as Lincoln Avenue, in 2009 and 2010. And the city, hoping to minimize construction impacts, hopes to coordinate its own improvements with CDOT's work. City Council was briefed on both facets of the work Tuesday.

Consultants that conducted a traffic analysis of downtown Steamboat recommended the city make a number of improvements to Lincoln Avenue, from moving a traffic light at Eight Street to 11th Street, to expanding curbs out in front of the parking lanes at intersections to reduce the street-crossing distance for pedestrians.

The consultants' recommendations were tame, though, compared to considerations discussed after comments from members of the Centennial Hall audience. Steamboat resident John Fielding renewed his calls for a bypass, and Steamboat resident Bill Jameson said the city was wasting an opportunity to make "visionary" changes to Lincoln Avenue that truly would be pedestrian-friendly. Jameson suggested widening sidewalks, adding bike lanes and eliminating on-street parking and the road's center turn lane.

"That's visionary," Jameson said, "but it's tough politically. I suggest you start looking outside the box here. : This doesn't look any different really from what we've got. And what we've got is a problem."

Some council members reluctantly agreed with Jameson, a frequent meeting-goer known for his candid lambasting of city affairs during public comment.

"I actually liked what Mr. Jameson had to say," Councilman Scott Myller said, "and I don't want to walk away from that just yet."

"I hate agreeing with you, too, Bill," Councilman Jon Quinn added. "I know that's a lot of (parking) spaces. But when you look at increasing pedestrian friendliness, I think eliminating parking makes a lot of sense."

Hermacinski suggested a summer pilot program in which Lincoln Avenue's on-street parking would be turned into a lane for buses and cyclists only. She also suggested parking fees that would be dedicated to future streetscape improvements. Councilwoman Meg Bentley seconded the latter proposal.

"I agree with Cari," she said. "I think it's time we back up and start implementing paid parking."

Council President Loui Antonucci brought the paid-parking conversation to a close. He said the idea deserves a full public airing and should be put on a future work-session agenda.

"And it should be the only agenda item," Antonucci joked.

Councilman Steve Ivancie said he appreciated his younger counterparts' passion for cycling, but he also noted that Steamboat is not San Diego and that is not practical to make decisions based on an activity that is only viable for a few months of the year. He also stood up for older residents for whom cycling may not be an option any month of the year. Ivancie spoke in favor of the construction of one or more parking structures.

"What I think this will do is accelerate the discussion of a parking structure," Ivancie said. "It's just really starting to clarify to me that we have an enormous traffic and parking problem."

Apart from directing staff, council members took no official action at Tuesday's work-session meeting. Public Works Director Philo Shelton was given permission to begin coordinating some of the consultants' recommendations with CDOT, including the curb extensions, the stoplight move and underground infrastructure improvements. Other recommendations, such as making Third Street one-way between Oak and Pine streets, were put on hold.

In his presentation, local CDOT engineer Van Pilaud cautioned against some of the ideas being considered by council. He said any reconfiguration of Lincoln Avenue's lanes might trigger federal requirements to bring the road up to current width standards, which would require a substantial widening of the lanes that would all but eliminate the current parking lanes if the four travel lanes and one turning lane were retained.

But that might not be all bad, said Pilaud, who noted the number of parked-car and sideswipe accidents on the street.

"You've got roughly 43 percent of all your accidents that could be related to a substandard width road," Pilaud said. "When you open your door on Lincoln Avenue, you're taking your life into your own hands."

Comments

grannyrett 5 years, 11 months ago

Ivancie-"It's just really starting to clarify to me that we have an enormous traffic and parking problem." ---Where have you been for the last 20 years?

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housepoor 5 years, 11 months ago

no parking on Lincoln between 5th & 13th with a parking garage at either end...courthouse and behind the Cantina

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AmebaTost 5 years, 11 months ago

Let CDOT pay for the bypass and leave lincoln alone, everyone is happy!

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Martha D Young 5 years, 11 months ago

What happened to the money downtown developers gave to the city in lieu of providing adequate parking? Why isn't this money available to fund the recommended changes to Lincoln Ave.?

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boatski 5 years, 11 months ago

Start looking outside the box, with all the new development downtown, on the mountain, between the mountain/downtown and west of Steamboat things are going to get a lot worse before they get any better. Lincoln Avenue is a nightmare, I am afraid to park on that street and It doesn't take a study to figure out that "When you open your door on Lincoln Avenue, you're taking your life into your own hands." I can't believe a merchant downtown would not like a more pedestrian friendly place for their business. Have you every sat outside a restaurant on Lincoln during the summer? It's a joke with tractor trailers roaring by you can't even think. Get a clue council, step up to the plate and do something visionary. Ivancie, people up in Fairbanks, AK ride their bikes in the middle of winter at forty below zero in the ice and snow. I bet a lot more people would do the same here if it were safer. Paid parking, parking structure and bypass get it done now!

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Harry Thompson 5 years, 11 months ago

Wake up and smell the coffee. To answer the question regarding fee in lieu of parking, the former city council put that into the general fund and pissed it away years ago.

Extending the curbs into the street - are you kidding me? How is snow going to be plowed around that little nightmare? The plows tear up the curbs now. If they go this route, send city employees & council with shovels to clean up around the extended curbs a couple of times a day during snow storms.

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bolter 5 years, 11 months ago

The traffic/parking nightmare will never get better; it will only get worse. Steamboat's heart has clogged arteries. A bypass is major surgery but it is a real solution which will dramatically improve downtown. The other proposals are just "more of the same". If CDOT are planning major reconstruction in 09/10, wouldn't that be the perfect time to bypass and let them help?

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424now 5 years, 11 months ago

My favorite line from the article,

"The consultants' recommendations were tame, though, compared to considerations discussed after comments from members of the Centennial Hall audience"

It brought a smile to my face.

A close second was,

"Apart from directing staff, council members took no official action"

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shadow 5 years, 11 months ago

Bolter, you're right. It's been a known fact for thirty years that a bypass is needed. Major surgery & major expense. It's such a big nut to crack that no one has had the gumption to address the issue and get the ball rolling.

It's easier to hire a consultant that comes up with harmless ideas, even if they don't fix the problem. The bypass is to big of a challenge for anyone that's taken a leadership role in the community. It likely involves displacing homes, which is political suicide in Steamberg Falls.

Expect cross town travel to get worse.

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dave reynolds 5 years, 11 months ago

would someone please correct me but at one point in time wasnt the good news building thought about being a parking for downtown shopping...you know scottys bbq etc,

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MtnWarlock 5 years, 11 months ago

paddlefisher, No correction needed. I remember the talk of that as well!

I don't think up front parking elimination will fly with downtown murchants!

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SilverSpoon 5 years, 11 months ago

"Van Pilaud cautioned against some of the ideas being considered by council. He said any reconfiguration of Lincoln Avenue's lanes might trigger federal requirements to bring the road up to current width standards"

Lincoln is not wide enough? no kidding. Get rid of parking, and bring the road up to modern width standards. Parallel parking on a highway is a huge blunder, make it a nice wide bike/bus/right turn lane(even the old people can use the bus).

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btheball 5 years, 11 months ago

The only way Lincoln Ave will ever be pedestrian friendly is to divert cars off of it. I like the idea of making both Lincoln and Oak one way and make it all a cohesive pedestrian corridor and create a "main street" feel with paving, lighting, street furniture:etc. Basic principals I'm sure the consultants are aware of.

And the great benefit of a bi-pass to downtown in diverting "traffic" (people using Lincoln to get to and from the ends of town whose destination is not downtown) away from Lincoln between 3rd to 11th Ave is to further encourage it's pedestrianization. That wouldn't hurt the downtown businesses. Many of the times I'm using Lincoln, I don't stop downtown.

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