Transportation ideas on the table

Solutions Committee hopes to lay groundwork for improvements during recession

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If you go

What: Transportation Solutions Committee open house

When: 4 to 7 p.m. Monday, with a presentation at 6:30 p.m.

Where: Olympian Hall at Howelsen Hill

Call: Meagan Coates, of the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association, at 875-7003 for more information

On the 'Net

Visit this story on www.steamboatpilot.com to download the committee's presentation and a presentation by Colorado Transportation Commissioner George Krawzoff on regional transportation authorities. Additional information, including a link to a survey, can be found here.

By the numbers

At its first open house, the Transportation Solutions Committee asked participants to mark recommendations they liked with colored dots. Below are the four most and least popular recommendations based on the exercise. There were 26 total recommendations.

Most popular:

Dots: Recommendation

17: Support increased funding and frequency of service for Steamboat Springs Transit

17: Provide funding to secure current commercial air service capacity levels

16: Land acquisition for a parking garage

16: Commit to fund and implement traffic solutions in committee's final report

Least popular:

Dots: Recommendation

0: Launch education initiative with way-finding resources and adequate signage

1: Benchmark current capacity and implement a needs analysis

1: Develop a local rideshare program as part of a regional transportation authority

1: Advertise national rideshare Web sites; have employers encourage carpooling

— The Transportation Solutions Committee continues to seek feedback on recommendations that ultimately could lead to a parking garage in downtown Steamboat Springs, an extension of the Yampa River Core Trail or a number of other wide-ranging outcomes.

The committee will host its second open house from 4 to 7 p.m. Monday at Olympian Hall. A presentation will be given at 6:30 p.m. The committee, created by the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association, held a similar event Tuesday with a presentation to the Steamboat Springs City Council.

"The open house was productive, but I'm really hoping to get more turnout next Monday," said committee member and Routt County Commissioner Diane Mitsch Bush. "I think the meeting at Olympian Hall will be an opportunity for the public to look at recommendations, comment on them and say what they like. And if anything is missing, let us know. : We really want to know what the public thinks about these recommendations."

At Tuesday's presentation, Councilwoman Cari Hermacinski said many of the group's recommendations are "really good ideas" but requested more specificity about issues such as funding and past efforts.

In terms of funding, the committee and its sub-groups continue to be drawn to the prospect of creating a regional transportation authority. An RTA could fund any number of improvements through means, such as vehicle registration fees, a visitor benefit tax, sales tax, use tax or "fees, tolls and charges for the privilege of traveling on or using any property included in any regional transportation system financed, constructed, operated or maintained by the authority."

Defining the boundaries and responsibilities of an RTA and getting it on the ballot for voter approval is a multi-year task. Chamber Executive Vice President Sandy Evans Hall told council that the committee realizes economic realities present funding challenges for their recommendations but that it hopes to lay some groundwork in the meantime.

"The whole idea is to be shovel-ready when the recession ends," Evans Hall said.

For example, Mike DeGroff said the sub-committee on parking and local transit chose to recommend only acquiring land for a downtown parking garage rather than actually constructing one.

Jim Gill, a member of the sub-committee on U.S. Highway 40 congestion, encouraged council to commit to whatever traffic solutions the committee identifies in its final report.

"It's the worst thing that could happen if all of this results in nothing," Gill said.

Comments

Bill Whittemore 5 years, 1 month ago

I feel that building a parking garage in town would be a big mistake for Steamboat to do. The reason I feel this way is that I have read at several different times that Steamboat would be interested in building a new road that goes around downtown so that downtown, there would be no traffic with the exception of the emergency traffic, the SST public transportation, people riding bicycles, walking,etc. I know that this would not happen this year, but we do need to look at the future plans that we have made in the past, while we make present plans. I have been living here for 27 years. I was so happy that the SST service began then. I remember when the Core Trail plans started. At that time, the Steamboat Springs government told all of us that over the years, when they are finacially able to, sometime in the future, the Core Trail will be built from Lake Catamount through Hayden. This is the main reason why I feel the the Core Trail sould be extended in legnth. If not that, why don't we save that money towards the road that would go around downtown.

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Scott Ford 5 years, 1 month ago

I think the handwriting is already on the wall we are going to be more congested and there is very little that can be done about. This traffic congestion is only partially due to folks passing through town. We are the cause of our own congestion. What does the future look like?

The math is pretty simple. What we know. For every household there are 2 vehicles each vehicle makes 6 trips a day totaling 20 miles in total. A trip from home to the worksite and back = 2 trips. While at the worksite run an errand or go out to lunch = 2 trips. Get back home and make a trip to the grocery store or school = 2 trips. How often do these trips involve using US 40 between 13th and Walton Creek Road? Most likely all of the trips involve some segment(s) of this road.

By 2019 the population of Routt County will be over 31,000. In 2009 the population is just over 24,000. A growth of 7,000 in population with an estimate of 2.3 persons per household will equal 3,050 households. Two vehicles per household equals 6,100 more vehicle trips per day.

In 2007 according to CDOT daily traffic count US 40 Hwy at Pine Grove Rd. Street was 28,757. The traffic capacity of this section of road is 3,380 vehicles per hour. During the 2007 study period Tue 7/31- Wed 8/01 this section of the road exceeded capacity from 8:00am to 6:00pm. Significant traffic congestion is experienced when the roadway exceeds 20% of capacity. This segment of road exceeded 20% capacity from Noon thru 6:00pm. Between the hours of 4:00pm and 5:00pm the roadway exceeded capacity by 30%. If you have ever passed through this intersections during these hours you know how it feels at 30% over capacity.

Let's say that only 60% of the additional projected trips passed through the intersection of US 40 and Pine Grove road. This would mean that almost 3,700 more vehicles would pass through this intersection. This would mean that we could expect capacity to exceed levels of 30% + from Noon to at least 6:00pm. WOW!

A by-pass does nothing to fix this. The problem has been and always has been us. We just need to get ready to sit in traffic a lot longer I mean a lot longer and there is very little anyone can do about it.

I guess we can be glad that it does not feel like downtown Boston yet but it will feel like Boston by 2019.

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4genlocal 5 years, 1 month ago

here is a fairly cheep idea to help with parking and traffic. make oak a one way west bound, yampa a one way east bound cut main to one lane each way and allow diagional parking on both sides. all this takes is some paint, and a few signs. this will make down town more enjoyable and bring back a main st feeling, and improve flow through the conjested area.

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Fred Duckels 5 years, 1 month ago

Today we have Lincoln, during busy times it is probably overloaded, will not meet any safety standards for ambulance, fire, police, any traffic intreruptions, lane widths, and it gives our city all the charm of an interstate highway. Our customers will probably be limited to ball teams until we move ahead to provide a more dignified atmosphere. Those in the transportation field, CDOT included, look at us as a laughing stock. Agenda is trumping reality. Steamboat will continue to grow, unless our laws are drastically changed. Our popoulation will most likely increase several fold in the future, providing that water is available. On this matter the buck has been passed for decades,if we are to be good stewards we muat step up in our time and be counted. We have a corridor on the Howelsen side of the RR tracks that would provide a parallel alternative, with easy access to relieve the aformentioned problems. Access could be established at several points to give traffic options. To ignore this chance to give those who follow us, all their options is insanity. Even if we can't finish the project now , we must get started planning to avoid further tunnel vision problems. We have good examples in Glenwood Springs that has completely dropped the ball, and Breckenridge that has completed an alternate route, but waited too long, and they have settled for the best that they could do under the circumstances. Look at the quality of the retail along Glenwood's thoroughfare. I have talked to residents that are unhappy with the towns lack of forersight, quality retailers can't make it there. The longer we dally, we will lose valuable options. Looking to the future is our responsibility.

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4genlocal 5 years, 1 month ago

Fred I agree we need a permanent solution what I purpose is just temporary to get us through until a bypass can be completed it is simple economical and would have quick results.

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ybul 5 years, 1 month ago

4genlocal.

Take it a step further and make every other street one way to get to lincoln and put in diagnol parking there also and you will have ample parking. The traffic flow will be greatly improved, with one ways on oak and yampa, the ease of shutting down lincoln for special events will be greatly improved.

The other problem spot is at the 7 eleven and that can be remedied very easily also.

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ybul 5 years, 1 month ago

btw, a parking garage will detract from the feel of downtown. The above options for parking will create quite a bit if those in charge actually think about it.

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Scott Wedel 5 years, 1 month ago

A terrific small town in Germany had the wisdom to put two large parking lots on each end of downtown and have the people walk or take a shuttle bus into the downtown. It was great because it was quick and easy to find a parking spot and the downtown was great because it was all close together like a shopping mall as compared to having to walk past parking lots.

The most deplorable aspect of building a downtown SB parking garage is that most of the parking is being used by employees and such that will be there for hours as compared to customers or visitors. If we could just get downtown employees to park at the transit center and take the bus downtown then there would be no need for additional parking.

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bubba 5 years, 1 month ago

I have heard the argument that we need a parking garage to alleviate traffic problems numerous times. This is a backwards approach - the more parking spaces, the more vehicles will be heading in, thus more traffic. As Scott F pointed out before, the traffic comes from people driving into town to do things. The easier it is to park, the easier the trip into town.

And Scott W describes a nice town where you park in a lot on one end, and take the shuttle. Sounds kind of like the empty parking lot we have at Stockbridge. Why does nobody use it? Because there is plenty of free parking in town.

Until it is more expensive or difficult to drive into town than it is to ride the bus, building additional parking will not solve the issue.

The ideas of pushing traffic across the river, or to Oak and Yampa might be worth exploring, but I have a feeling that dealing with turning at the intersections (you need to turn 4 times to get from A to B, rather than a straight line) would be enough of a hassle that people would only use these 'mini-bypasses' when lincoln was completely congested - meaning that this wouldn't have fixed very much.

I don't mean to just discount the solutions proposed, but we need to keep in mind that people, you and I, will take the path of least resistance. Right now, downtown is a mess because it is very easy to drive into it. Making it easier to drive into seems to be a step in the wrong direction. I don't know what the solution is - short term only or paid parking might make sense, but will be met by resistance.

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ybul 5 years, 1 month ago

-The ideas of pushing traffic across the river, or to Oak and Yampa might be worth exploring, but I have a feeling that dealing with turning at the intersections -

The thing is that you make it impossible to go straight. Though if you want to go from Oak to Yampa you can do so. Allow traffic to not stop coming down from fish creek falls road and merge in a temporary third lane, fixing the majority of the messed up traffic flow at that intersection also.

There are really only a couple of bottle necks today and will remain so into the future. Without a major mushrooming of the population, which is hard to foresee (but who knows what the future holds).

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JLM 5 years, 1 month ago

We'll still be talking about building a parking garage 15 years from today. LOL

How about a parking garage on the bottom and affordable housing on the top? LOL

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4genlocal 5 years, 1 month ago

I also want to point out the traffic got worse when the city made it so trucks could not go through Brooklyn and the county decided there was not a need for a gravel pit on the south side of town. These are two contributing factors to the problem.

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4genlocal 5 years, 1 month ago

Bubba that is an easy one. Decrease the speed limit on main st. this would also make it safer for bikes kids. Increase the speed limit on the one ways. People will use them. I do want to point out this would have been easier to do, had planning in the great foresight not allowed yampa st to be narrowed at 5th that was not a good idea.

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Scott Ford 5 years, 1 month ago

Fred said it best, "Glenwood Springs dropped the ball." I am not all that hopeful that our fate will be any better. Fred I know you are very passionate about this issue. I know that we have done study after study highlighting the problem and forecasting the future which in many cases has come true. Options that existed 20 years ago do not exist today.

Just for my own education and perhaps that of others at what point in time did we have the best opportunity? And why didn't we act?

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mtroach 5 years, 1 month ago

The first step our town needs to take is; PARKING METERS downtown. Eliminate free parking, bring in revenue, and provide an incentive for downtown workers to not park downtown. That would go a long way to slove the "parking" problem. Now I for one don't see the problem, whenever I want to go downtown, usually for lunch, i find a spot fairly easy, and close to my favorive dining establishment.

Why do we need an expensive parking garage?

Charge for parking, enforce the parking fees, and see how people's behavior changes to adapt to the new fees before even thinking about building a garage.

As for the bypass debate, everyone "stuck" in traffic should goto Denver's Tech center and experence the ruch hour traffic they have, It'll give you a new appreciation for our lack of traffic. The problem with our traffic stems from rush hour cars, if you think about your driving, and aviod the peak traffic hours the traffic is a non-issue. Building a bypass,( as Fred Duckes the road builder desires) will do nothing to eliminate our rush hour. Building bike, and pedistrian friendly roads, and offering an incentive for down valley workers to stop at the transit center and take a shuttle to the mountain would also be a first step toward pulling commuters off the road during rush hour. Ask the management companies to require their workers to stop and park, with a cash reward for doing so could take many cars off downtown streets.

Finally everyone posting on this forum should take time to attend these meetings and give their opinions to our government. Posting ideas on a forum gets nothing done, only direct input will. This forum is good at giving people an avenue to discuss issues, but direct communication is needed to direct the powers that be toward the outcome you and I desire. Turn off the computer, and attend the meeting Monday 4-7 @ Oly Hall.

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Fred Duckels 5 years, 1 month ago

Scott, An alternate route was about to become a reality decades ago, CDOT was on board and we were ready to go when the merchants stepped in and killed the deal. MT I'm sure that the traffic at the tech center is equal or greater than ours, but the idea of a vacation there sucks. The alternate route that I envision would divert from 40 west of the 129 intersection, follow adjacent to the RR corridor on the Howelsen side, and proceed south to the Mt Werner interchange. This would allow several opportunities for traffic to take either Lincoln or the alternate. When congestion occurs traffic will have a relief valve. Commercial and through traffic could use the alternate. In essence we will have two roads to carry the traffic, this will solve the problems that I referred to earlier. This will solve congestion for the near future. With congestion relief on Lincoln we will be able, through innovation, to provide a first class atmosphere that we lack. Then maybe the city crowd will be attracted to a place that is a getaway from the same old grind.

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