Steamboat Springs At the main intersections along Lincoln Avenue as it runs through the heart of Steamboat Springs, uniformed law enforcement agents stand ready to direct traffic to guide drivers through the maze of construction cones.
The officers, though part of the regular agencies that cover Routt County, are working extra hours to direct traffic, and the contract between the Colorado Department of Transportation and the contractor calls for at least $70,000 during the course of the project, CDOT spokeswoman Nancy Shanks said.
Shanks said the contract calls for about $50,000 to go to the city of Steamboat Springs and the Steamboat Springs Police Department, and $20,000 to the Colorado State Patrol for traffic control. Shanks said the estimates were conservative, however, and the final price could be higher. The Routt County Sheriff’s Office does not have a contract with the state for the project, but deputies can be called in during their regular patrols if they are needed.
The contracted rate with the city is $65 per hour, including use of the police car, administrative fees and the pay for the officer. For the State Patrol, the rate is about $58, she said.
Jody Patten, project information manager for Scott Contracting, said the traffic control is required any time the traffic lights are not in operation during high-traffic hours.
The extra hours are distributed to troopers and officers mostly when they volunteer, but State Patrol Sgt. Scott Elliott said to maintain a presence, troopers could sometimes be assigned to the area.
Elliott said the number of troopers and officers will increase throughout the summer. Police now are monitoring the Seventh Street intersection, and troopers have patrolled 13th Street. As the construction moves toward Third Street, more traffic assistance might be required. Shanks said those decisions will be made as the project progresses.
Shanks said it’s important to note that the hours are voluntary overtime, but officers still could be called away to emergencies if required.
Shanks also reminded drivers coming up 13th Street that Lincoln Avenue drivers have priority, and if the line of cars is long enough to reach the railroad tracks, drivers need to be careful to not put themselves in a position where they are stopped on the railroad tracks. She said troopers at the intersection will watch for the backup and will try to get the line moving before then, but if it is delayed that far, it could pose a danger.
Construction crews stopped work Thursday because of snowy, wet weather but are expected to resume early next week.