Steamboat Springs For people needing to travel from one side of downtown Steamboat Springs to the other Wednesday during the build-up to the finish of the third leg of the USA Pro Challenge, the free city buses are a good option. Riding a bicycle is another.
Traffic in both directions through downtown Steamboat, including heavy trucks, will be detoured onto Oak Street.
The estimated finish time of the race is 4:45 p.m., and the good news is that traffic on U.S. Highway 40 in the city limits between downtown and the mountain will operate normally Wednesday until about 3 p.m., according to Public Safety Director Joel Rae. Then between about 3 p.m. and 3:15 p.m., traffic headed in both directions where the highway is divided between Third Street and JD Hays Way near the mountain fire station will be diverted into a single lane.
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Daily road closure information during the event will be available by calling 511 or by visiting www.cotrip.org.
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“Both east and westbound lanes will be diverted into the east lanes,” Rae said. “The (bicycle) peloton will stay in the westbound lanes as they come into town.”
While the two lanes of traffic are merged, turns against traffic only will be allowed at Walton Creek Road, Pine Grove Road, Hilltop Parkway, Anglers Drive and Third Street for motorists heading east. As they were in 2011, the lines of cars going opposite directions on one side of the highway will be separated by traffic cones.
There will be a period of 15 to 20 minutes when motorists are blocked from entering U.S. 40 in Steamboat as the lead riders begin the descent into the Yampa Valley from Rabbit Ears Pass, Rae said.
“When the first riders and the peloton are heading down from the west summit within 15 minutes of an estimated finish time, we will stop traffic at Third Street so we can open gates to the finish area,” Rae said. “It will be a complete lockdown of about 15 to 20 minutes until the peloton comes into town. It will be slow, and some people will be inconvenienced. It will take some time.”
In order to manage traffic flow and hopefully keep people’s sense of humor intact, the city has enlisted help in the form of 15, 10-foot-tall inflatable human stick figures called Spinheads, Steamboat police Capt. Jerry Stabile said. The bright orange Spinheads will be placed at key intersections and are able to point the way. And the space where their face should be is filled with a concise message to drivers — for example, "11th Street."
“The good thing about Spinheads is they can tell people which direction to go, but they can’t answer questions, so there’s no reason for people to slow traffic to stop and ask, ‘Where’s a good place to eat lunch?’” Stabile quipped.
To accommodate the expected increased ridership, the city will run twice as many buses as it typically does on a summer day and even add some new routes for the day.
Transit Director Jonathan Flint told the Steamboat Today this week that the routes include a pink line that will bypass traffic congestion on U.S. Highway 40 by taking riders from the Gondola Transit Center to Oak Street via Steamboat Boulevard and a black line that will depart the Stock Bridge Transit Center and take riders to several stops downtown before continuing on to the grocery stores and the Gondola Transit Center.
Flint urged spectators hoping to watch the cyclists finish on Lincoln Avenue to board a bus at least an hour ahead of the anticipated finish time of 4:45 p.m.
In the meantime, the Colorado Department of Transportation will block eastbound traffic on U.S. 40 at the intersection with Colorado Highway 131 all the way to Kremmling from 1 to 5 p.m. Wednesday to prevent motor vehicles from mixing with the oncoming cyclists.
As soon as the last rider has passed Walton Creek Road on the way into town, Rae said, a CDOT truck and crew will be waiting to begin picking up cones in the eastbound lanes and gradually return cars to their respective sides of the divided highway. Also, city crews will reopen two blocks of Lincoln Avenue to Fifth Street, Rae said.
All of Lincoln Avenue will be restored to normal traffic by midnight, Rae added, but traffic cones will remain in place through the night to prevent parking along the street. The intent is to leave an unobstructed path for the beginning of Thursday’s race west through downtown, which heads west on Lincoln shortly after the start at 11 a.m.
While the detour of Lincoln Avenue is in place Wednesday, Rae said, there are two other bypasses from which motorists can select, including Fish Creek Falls Road to Steamboat Boulevard to reach the mountain area, or for traffic entering downtown from the west, a right turn onto 12th or 11th streets to reach Yampa Street. From there, continue to a right turn across the Yampa River at Fifth Street and proceed out River Road/Routt County Road 14 to reach Colo. 131.
The fourth leg of the Pro Cycling Challenge begins at the base of the ski area late Thursday morning and leads into downtown via Lincoln Avenue to proceed out Twentymile Road on the way to Beaver Creek.
For Thursday morning’s race start, Rae said, beginning at 10:50 a.m., traffic will be prevented from continuing west on U.S. 40 at Pine Grove Road and at the other end of town, the cars will be stopped at 13th until the bikes have passed. For westbound vehicles, it will be a rolling closure, and Rae expects Lincoln to be back to normal by 11:30 a.m.
2013 USA Pro Challenge road closures
To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205 or email tross@SteamboatToday.com
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