Our View: Time is right for road changes

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Editorial Board, May 2008 to August 2008

  • Bryna Larsen, publisher
  • Brent Boyer, editor
  • Mike Lawrence, city editor
  • Tom Ross, reporter
  • Eric Morris, community representative
  • Paul Draper, community representative

Contact the editorial board at (970) 871-4221 or editor@steamboatpilot.com. Would you like to be a member of the board? Fill out a letter of interest now.

While massive and widespread redevelopment in Steamboat Springs will continue into the foreseeable future, it would be easy to downplay the significance and timing of the Colorado Department of Transportation's plan to repave Lincoln Avenue through the heart of downtown.

Fortunately, it appears the project is giving a needed boost to discussions about Steamboat's parking and traffic issues.

The City Council, city staff, residents and CDOT officials took part in a lively discussion Tuesday night that included an array of ideas that could alleviate parking pressure, reduce car accidents and improve the pedestrian experience in the downtown corridor. While no official action was taken Tuesday, we were encouraged by the candor and tone of the discussion.

The timing of Tuesday's discussion coincided with a review of CDOT's plan to repave Lincoln Avenue from Third to 13th streets during fall 2009. As it stands, the $10.5 million repaving project will begin in September 2009, take a hiatus during the winter months, and be completed in spring 2010. Steamboat Springs Public Works Director Philo Shelton said CDOT crews likely will repave Lincoln Avenue in two-block sections. The number of traffic lanes will be reduced during the work, but not eliminated.

The project comes at an opportune time for the city, which recently commissioned a traffic analysis by an outside consulting firm. The repaving of Lincoln Avenue through downtown Steamboat will allow the city to enact some of the study's recommendations. Those recommendations include moving the traffic light at Eighth Street to 11th Street, providing bus bays at the far side of signaled intersections, adding striped bike lanes on Oak, Yampa, Fifth and 11th streets, and expanding curbs out in front of the parking lanes at intersections to reduce the street-crossing distance for pedestrians.

While those steps certainly can improve downtown traffic flow and pedestrian friendliness, they're not significant enough to solve parking problems and overall congestion downtown.

But there were ideas raised Tuesday night that could address those issues.

Resident Bill Jameson suggested "visionary" changes such as eliminating on-street parking on Lincoln Avenue, widening sidewalks and adding bike lanes.

Councilwoman Cari Hermacinski suggested a summer pilot program that would eliminate on-street parking, and she proposed parking fees to pay for future streetscape improvements. Councilman Steve Ivancie renewed calls for a downtown parking garage.

None of the ideas are new, but each is worthy of consideration. Given CDOT's planned work on U.S. 40 through downtown, now may be the best time for years to come to enact meaningful change.

We hope Tuesday night's discussion brings momentum to next week's 2008 Economic Summit at the Steamboat Grand Resort Hotel. The subject of this year's summit? "Planes, Trains and Automobiles: Transportation and our Economic Future." Share your opinions and be part of the discussion. Call 875-7000 or visit www.steamboatchamber.com to register or for more information.

Comments

bolter 6 years, 7 months ago

Widening the road? No parking on Lincoln? These are "visionary" proposals?

Pilot, use your influence to help a REAL visionary proposal: the bypass.

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