Hayden addresses Hospital Hill curve | SteamboatToday.com

Hayden addresses Hospital Hill curve

Plans to decrease speed limit, improve visibility on Hospital Hill

Blythe Terrell

— Hayden leaders want to drop the speed limit and trim trees to make a curve on Hospital Hill safer.

The Town Board invited neighborhood residents to its meeting Thursday to discuss the bend at South Pine and Jackson streets. About a half-dozen people spoke.

“It seems to be a corner where people see how fast they can go,” said Jim Kline, who lives at the corner, on Pine. “We’re worried about our children and our dogs and our neighbors and everything else around.”

The speed limit is 25 mph on the curve, and there are no stop signs. A couple of signs warn drivers to slow down because of children. Residents suggested adding cameras or digital signs showing drivers’ speeds, putting an unmarked police car there or adding speed bumps.

A key issue, police said, is enforcement. A digital speed limit sign would not help unless officers were present.

“There are digital signs, like ones on (U.S. Highway) 40 in Steamboat,” Police Chief Ray Birch said. “Some of those devices do come equipped with camera devices, which locks in the speed and takes a photograph. : I looked into it last year for Jefferson (Avenue). Those run $12,000, $15,000, $16,000 a unit.”

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The town has considered stop signs, but several have disappeared from the spot in the past.

“It’d probably get ripped out of the ground, and, in that case, we’d love to have a camera,” Birch said. “We’d look to the ends of the Earth for that person who steals the sign. That person would go to jail.”

Trustee Bill Hayden pushed for a stop sign. If 50 percent of people stop, he said, that solves 50 percent of the problem. Other trustees said they didn’t want to make every driver stop if only a few were speeding.

“We all spend enough time stopped in our vehicles,” Trustee Tom Rogalski said. “I’m not against it if that’s where we’ve got to go, but I don’t want to start there.”

Trustees encouraged residents to report speeders and reckless drivers to police.

The board directed Town Manager Russ Martin to look into crafting an ordinance to allow them to cut the speed limit to 15 mph. Martin said he would examine the legal rules and report back. No ordinance could go into effect for at least 30 days.

The board also asked Public Works Department officials to trim the trees in Kline’s yard to improve visibility around the curve.

The board said it would revisit the issue if the problem persists.

Also at Thursday’s meeting:

– Birch said next week would be his last on the job before his deployment to Iraq. He plans to take two weeks off before reporting for duty to the Air Force Reserves on June 28.

– Martin discussed funding complications of three planned sidewalks. The town has gotten a grant to add a sidewalk on Third Street from Hayden High School to Hayden Valley Elementary School.

Sidewalks between Third and Sixth streets on Jefferson Avenue and on Poplar Street are more complicated. Construction costs have increased, so they must be reapproved for federal funds. The board told Martin to combine all three into one project and move toward getting designs.

Martin aims to get those OK’d early next year so construction can begin next summer. The projects together are expected to cost at least $550,000.

The town must match 20 percent of the funding on the Jefferson and Poplar projects.

– To reach Blythe Terrell, call 871-4234

or e-mail bterrell@steamboatpilot.com