Steamboat plans traffic pattern for marathon

Officials plan to keep 2 lanes open for traffic downtown during Sunday event

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— A plan formalized Thursday will keep two traffic lanes on Lincoln Avenue during Sunday’s Steamboat Marathon, preventing a scenario that police Capt. Joel Rae said “would have created traffic back-ups on Lincoln that this town has never seen.”

Rae, of the Steamboat Springs Police Department, said Thurs­day that one lane in each direction will be available for vehicles Sunday morning on Lincoln Avenue, as throngs of runners make their way from North Routt County to the historic Routt County Courthouse between Fifth and Sixth streets downtown.

Initial traffic plans for the marathon included just one lane of traffic from 13th Street past 11th Street, amid downtown construction, with flaggers alternating access for eastbound and westbound vehicles to provide room for runners.

But Rae said Scott Contract­ing, which is conducting the downtown paving and improvement project for the Colorado Department of Transportation, agreed to install extra road base from 13th past 11th to allow two lanes of vehicle traffic Sunday. Runners will use a 6-foot lane on the north side of Lincoln Avenue through that area, Rae said. Runners will have a full lane from 10th to Sixth streets and three full lanes from Sixth to the finish, Rae said. Participants will run on concrete all the way down Lincoln.

Site supervisor “Cody Patter­son and Scott Contracting are going to be very accommodating for us,” Rae said. “First of all, my hat’s off to them. … It’ll make the entire downtown experience and the whole event a lot more enjoyable for everybody.”

Rae said he plans to meet with Scott Contracting again today to double-check and finalize Sunday’s traffic plans. Rae, a former marathoner himself, said he plans to run the 10K in Sunday’s event, which also includes a half-marathon.

He said the marathon course would not change because of the construction.

“It’s a certified course; it’s a sanctioned course. … It was very important to participants and organizers to keep the course the same,” Rae said. “People use it to qualify for the Boston Marathon.”

Uniformed officers will be on hand at key intersections, and traffic and race lanes will be clearly marked, Rae said.

Jody Patten, project information manager for Scott Contracting, said crews are working “feverishly” to get the Fifth Street intersection open for Sunday’s event. She said that opening would occur.

“Our commitment is to get Fifth open Sunday for the marathon. … And then it’s probably going to have to close right back down,” she said Thursday.

Rae said opening Fifth Street would be crucial for detouring traffic around downtown Sunday. That function typically is served by the Third Street intersection, which is closed for construction.

“Fifth will become the new Third Street for this event,” Rae said.

Rae and city Public Works Di­­rector Philo Shelton encouraged people to avoid driving downtown Sunday morning and instead use bicycles or mass transit or walk.

Scott Contracting plans to close the 13th Street intersection this morning, meaning drivers to and from the Fairview neighborhood should use the James Brown Soul Center of the Universe Bridge. The closure is expected to last at least two weeks. Scott also said hourlong delays on Lincoln Avenue are planned for 3 to 6 a.m. today, as crews move the paver back to 13th Street.

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