Our view: It’s going to get better
June 3, 2017
At issue: Summer construction season has arrived, and with the expanding slate of summer events, traffic issues are going to get worse before they get better
Our view: The longterm benefits of the road construction projects will be more than worth the temporary inconvenience now
Summer in Northwest Colorado always seems to come as a mixed blessing. The days grow warmer, the snow begins to melt and the valley turns green and vibrant again. Skis and snowboards are traded in for bikes, boats and hiking boots, and the months that lie ahead are filled with a seemingly endless variety of summer fun.
But, at the same time, summer also brings road graders, flagmen, detour signs and long delays as construction crews scramble to wrest the greatest possible benefit from our severely abridged construction season.
Taken in tandem, these two harbingers of summer usually add up to more people on our city streets and county roads at the very time those streets and roads are least able to handle it, and the result is usually a marked uptick in driver frustration.
Currently, three major projects involving road construction are underway in Steamboat Springs: the renovations of Yampa and Oak streets — both entering their second summer and both nearing completion — and now, the realignment of the intersection of U.S. Highway 40 and Elk River Road.
The last of these — U.S. 40 and Elk River Road — has been underway barely a month now, and already, the traffic impacts are maddeningly apparent, with lines of cars sometimes backed up from the intersection in question all the way to Bud Werner Memorial Library.
Not to mince words, the traffic situation in Steamboat is already bad, and as we delve more deeply into the summer and more people begin venturing forth to enjoy the warm-weather activities now becoming available, it's going to get worse before it gets better.
That said, we'd like to take a moment to focus on the latter — the “it’s going to get better” part.
We're reminded of the Lincoln Avenue refurbishment project of several years ago, which turned the downtown corridor into one, long construction zone for what seemed like years. By comparison, that project was much more involved and caused far greater traffic disruptions than the current projects combined. But even back then, it eventually got better, and we feel most would agree that the end results — significantly improved traffic flow and a far more attractive downtown — were well worth the trouble it took to get there.
We, too, drive in Steamboat, so we know the frustration that can arise when all you want to do is get where you need to be and, instead, you find yourself trapped in a long line of cars that doesn't seem to be going anywhere. But that's part of the price we pay to live where we do, and most, we feel, would agree that price is a cheap one considering what you get in return.
We must also point out, there are alternatives to braving the cone zones of summer.
Steamboat is perhaps one of the easiest towns in the nation to negotiate without a car. We have bike trails, walking trails and a robust public transportation system which, combined, connect pretty much every part of our city. So dust off that bike, walk to work or leave the car at home and hop on the free bus.
And when you must drive, keep in mind that this — like the Lincoln Avenue project — will one day be over, and the payoff will more than make up for the bumps in the road we’re enduring now. So, we encourage our friends and neighbors — as well as our guests — to keep a positive attitude, watch out for one another and keep at least one eye solidly on the prize.
We'll get there, and the journey — detours, delays and all — will be much more pleasant if we take it together