Our View: Plan ahead during US 40 construction
March 28, 2010
A months-long headache is coming to Steamboat Springs, and the only way to alleviate it will be patience, courteousness and our willingness to use alternative forms of transportation and break the habits of our typical daily routines.
The second and final phase of the Lincoln Avenue repaving project through the heart of downtown Steamboat begins in earnest April 5. If all goes well — including the weather — the work could be done by June 30. In all likelihood, the project will continue in September after taking a July and August hiatus to accommodate Steamboat's busy summer tourism season. If it's not done by Nov. 12, Scott Contracting will face daily fines until the work is complete.
Last summer, we reminded residents that this project is indeed important for our city and, therefore, worth the short-term pain. It still is. But get ready for that pain.
During a public meeting about the $5.6 million project last week, officials unveiled tentative plans for the construction schedule. Work will occur in overlapping phases of about three weeks each, beginning with work between 13th and 11th streets on the north side of Lincoln Avenue. The second phase will be between 11th and Seventh streets, and the third phase will be between Seventh and Third streets. The first three phases of the project will be on the north side of Lincoln Avenue. When the third phase is complete, project officials anticipate returning to 13th Street and working east in the same sections, except this time on the south side of Lincoln Avenue.
The overlap in phase work will come when one section of the new concrete road is curing and work on the next section begins.
All motorists will be inconvenienced during the project, some more so than others. Residents of the Fairview and Brooklyn neighborhoods could see added delays when the work is at 13th and Fifth streets, their primary access routes to and from Lincoln Avenue.
Some of the side streets off Lincoln Avenue will be closed during specific phases of the construction. And traffic on Lincoln Avenue will be restricted to one lane in each direction through sections of downtown.
The result will be significant backups and slow going through our city. Nothing we do will change that, but there are steps each of us should take to alleviate traffic delays and maintain our own sanity.
First, motorists are being asked to avoid making left-hand turns from Lincoln Avenue while traffic is open to only one lane in each direction. There will be no middle turn lane, so each left turn is bound to further slow traffic in both directions as the motorist waits for an opportunity to cross opposing traffic. Instead, consider making right turns until you reach a signal that will take you across Lincoln and on to your destination.
Second, all residents should carefully consider the number and timing of their vehicular trips each day. Make a list and accomplish all your errands on one trip, when possible. Consider going early in the morning or late in the evening. We also encourage parents to let the school buses transport their children to and from school each day.
Third, consider alternative modes of transportation. We have an excellent Steamboat Springs Transit system that is free to riders. Abundant parking is available on the west side of town at the Stock Bridge Transit Center. Our Yampa River Core Trail makes it easy for folks to ride their bikes or walk to and from town, avoiding any traffic hassles and getting exercise and fresh air in the process. The construction project also could be a good time to consider setting up a carpool with co-workers, family and friends.
Finally, it's worth restating that although the timing of the project is unfortunate given the significant struggles our economy already is facing, it's an important job that must be done now while the state funding is in place. Some downtown business owners were none too pleased with the effects of the first summer of downtown U.S. Highway 40 work on their stores and restaurants. The business community has been working with the Colorado Department of Transportation, Scott Contracting and the city of Steamboat Springs to ease the pain of the work this time around, including keeping as many downtown parking spaces available as possible. We urge residents to keep those businesses in mind as they make their dining and shopping decisions this spring and fall.