If you go
What: A meeting for supporters of a downtown bypass road in Steamboat Springs
When: 6:30 p.m. Tuesday
Where: Steamboat Springs Community Center, 1605 Lincoln Ave.
Call: Fred Duckels at 879-6072 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Steamboat Springs Tired of the idea of a Steamboat Springs bypass road being kicked around for decades without action, a group of bypass supporters is gathering next week to consolidate efforts and formulate a plan for moving forward.
The meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Steamboat Springs Community Center. Fred Duckels of Duckels Construction is leading the charge. Duckels sends heavy equipment through downtown Steamboat on U.S. Highway 40 on a regular basis, but he said Steamboat's traffic problems are far more than an industry concern.
"It hurts a lot of people, not just construction," Duckels said. "I talk to a lot of people around town who are tired of it. : I liken Lincoln Avenue to a five-gallon bucket. You can only pour five gallons into a five-gallon bucket. We need another bucket."
Duckels thinks special interests have suppressed calls for a bypass throughout the years.
"I've been after it for 20 years," he said. "I've watched other people trying be helpful and suggesting something. : When I attend the meetings and have something to say, I'm surrounded by agenda-driven people. We need to organize to have a voice."
Duckels has reached out to other bypass supporters, including John Fielding, a Steamboat resident who has proposed a bypass behind Howelsen Hill on Emerald Mountain. Fielding said there is an urgency to move quickly on any bypass proposal.
"The physical opportunities continue to disappear," Fielding said. "The pace of development is such that it's becoming more and more difficult to do it at a reasonable cost."
"With all that's going on," he said, "if we don't throw our hat in the ring, it may be too late."
Variety of ideas
Fielding spoke at Tuesday night's Steamboat Springs City Council meeting during a discussion of 2009-10 improvements to U.S. 40 through downtown, where the road is known as Lincoln Avenue. The discussion brought many varied and candid suggestions. In his comments, Fielding said the difficult decisions being considered revealed the folly of trying to make a federal highway also serve as a pedestrian-friendly Main Street.
"A bypass of some type is going to be the best solution to traffic situations downtown," Fielding said.
There has been little indication of change to the lack of political will that has thwarted bypass supporters for decades. Fielding was the only person who mentioned the idea at Tuesday night's meeting. Nonetheless, Fielding said he is encouraged by the variety of options that were discussed, from the construction of parking garages to the addition of bike lanes.
"When you hear some of the suggestions being made," Fielding said, "it's clear that people are really ready to start thinking differently about this."