Business owners seek downtown parking
Construction desires a hot topic at annual Mainstreet meeting
January 17, 2010
Steamboat Springs — Downtown business owners did their best Friday to persuade Colorado Department of Transportation officials and construction managers to leave them more street parking when the conversion of Lincoln Avenue to concrete paving begins in April.
Jamie McQuade, of Winona's Restaurant and Bakery, 617 Lincoln Ave., urged Project Manager John Murnan, of Scott Contracting, to consider leaving street parking intact in front of businesses by detouring westbound or eastbound traffic onto Oak or Yampa streets during the construction on Lincoln. She said that during the first phase of construction in summer 2009, her receipts and those of some neighboring businesses were 50 percent higher any time there was a modest amount of street parking relatively close to her popular breakfast and lunch establishment.
"Otherwise, we face three months of no parking on side streets and no parking on Main Street," McQuade said. "From a city standpoint, there's no more tax dollars to lose."
The discussion of business owners' concerns about the construction project took place Friday at the Old Town Pub & Restaurant at the end of the annual meeting of Mainstreet Steamboat Springs.
Murnan told a gathering of more than 50 business owners that construction was scheduled to last for three months and be done by June 30. Regardless of whether the work is complete on schedule, he said, crews won't be working in Steamboat's historic commercial district in the heart of the summer.
"We won't be here in July and August," he said. "Our goal is to be done by June 30. We think it can be done."
CDOT has placed an $80,000 bonus on the on-time completion date to ensure that Scott pushes the pace, CDOT Resident Engineer David W. Schneider said.
Murnan said the work would begin on the south side of Lincoln at its western end and proceed to the east in three phases: first from 13th Street to 11th Street, then from 11th Street to Seventh Street and finally continuing on to Third Street.
The road sections in each phase were chosen to coincide with intersections where crews will hand-pour colored pedestrian crosswalks, Murnan said. Doing the work by hand will offer an opportunity to ensure that the segments are flush with one another and provide a smooth ride down Lincoln, he said.
When the south side is complete, the crews will return to the west end of Lincoln and work their way back up the broad avenue along its north side.
One work crew will first remove the old asphalt and prepare for the concrete, followed by a large paving machine that will do most of its work at night. The two operations will move forward simultaneously as the prep crew moves on to the second segment ahead of the paving unit, Murnan said.
"In order to be done by June 30, we'll have to overlap phases," Murnan said.
The plan calls for traffic on Lincoln to continue through the disruption with single lanes in each direction on the side of the street not under construction.
McQuade's proposal is to retain only a single lane of traffic on Lincoln through the construction, leaving the lane closest to the curb for parking. Traffic headed in the opposite direction would divert to Oak or Yampa.
Project Engineer Dave Eller reminded the gathering that during several public information meetings before last year's construction, there was considerable sentiment among property owners on Oak and Yampa against diverting the heavy traffic past their doors.
Eller added that the difficult turning radius for large trucks required to turn off Oak onto 11th Street, for example, would likely require removing some on-street parking from the side streets.
Joe Kboudi, of All that Jazz, 601 Lincoln Ave., shared McQuade's concern.
"It seems like the street from Seventh to 11th will be impacted for two-thirds of the time," he said. He urged the contractors to reconsider their plan to start at the west end of the street and move east. By starting at Third Street and working their way west instead, he suggested they would be out of the heart of the commercial district by mid-June, in time to make space for the annual Mustang Roundup show and shine display — a major tourism draw.
Murnan said his company couldn't take that chance. He explained that before any roadwork can begin, crews from Qwest Communications need access to sensitive telecommunications lines at the intersection of Fifth Street and Lincoln Avenue. That work could take two weeks or more. Consequently, Scott Contracting feels compelled to start at the opposite end of the street.
Murnan left the meeting saying the issue that concerned him most were comments during the meeting that pedestrian crossings on Lincoln during the 2009 construction were not safe.
"We've go to take a hard look at that," he said. "I have cousins living here. I want them, and everyone, to be safe."