Routt County road funding is limited, local roads are narrow, shoulders are inconsistent and adjacent steep slopes restrict economic options for widening. That sounds somewhat dire, but there is a group exploring how to get the most out of our roads by encouraging all user groups to work together.
The Routt County Board of Commissioners established the Multi-Modal Road Use Advisory Board in 2009 to bring all user groups to the table. The board includes representatives from agriculture, cycling, construction, trucking, pedestrian/running, a bicycle company, and four general citizens — one each from Steamboat, North Routt, West Routt and South Routt. As the city engineer, I am an advisory member, along with Routt County’s engineer and the Road and Bridge director.
When the board first met, there was an initial tension among members while discussing how each group uses roads. The tension was rooted in a common concern: Each user group wants to travel safely, and each group was unaware of the others’ limitations. Some of the top concerns that we discussed included:
■ Trucks have limited visibility and can’t stop quickly
■ Bicyclists can’t always ride on the edge of the road because it’s too rough
■ Vehicles can’t pass cyclists riding two abreast safely, especially around curves
■ Tractor operators feel unsafe with tailgating and speeding when being passed
■ Pedestrians/runners are concerned with speeding and inattentive drivers
What we soon realized was that sharing the road safely can maximize our infrastructure and prioritize projects that will improve travel for all groups. Now, we just have to get that message out to the community.
Our first initiative was the development of a “Share the Road” campaign. You may have seen the banners on popular road cycling routes and the logo on local event posters. Safety tips were distributed to local bike shops for distribution with bicycle rentals. Share the Road bumper stickers were provided to trucking companies and school kids in Hayden.
We currently are reviewing the county’s road striping policy, suggesting changes in county road standards, identifying recommendations for pull-offs, prioritizing shoulder widening, establishing temporary bathroom locations, and looking into a complete streets policy.
I found that the solutions are easier to come by than I had first thought. As residents of Routt County, we have a lot in common, and the benefit of giving time to this group has been to discover that there are many ways we all can work together to make county roads user-friendly for all.
Janet Hruby is a city engineer for the city of Steamboat Springs, sits on the Routt County Riders board of directors and is an advisory member of the Routt County Multi Modal Road Use Advisory Board.