Our view: Roundabouts enhance safety, visitor experience | SteamboatToday.com

Our view: Roundabouts enhance safety, visitor experience

Anyone who travels through Mount Werner Circle on a busy ski weekend knows how difficult it can be to safely navigate around shuttles and buses coming and going from Gondola Station and vehicles that are idling in the roadway to drop off or pick up skiers at Steamboat Ski Area's base area. In addition, you have to be on the lookout for pedestrians crossing the busy roadway at four different crosswalks, and many of these people are visitors unfamiliar with local traffic patterns.

It's definitely chaotic at times, especially when traffic backs up at the end of a ski day, and so we were happy to learn last week that the city of Steamboat Springs is moving forward with a plan to add a roundabout at Ski Time Square Drive and Mount Werner Circle to improve traffic flow and safety at the busy intersection.

Currently, vehicles leaving the Gondola Transit Center and wanting to travel south typically turn right onto Mount Werner Circle, then make another right onto Ski Time Drive and then make their way around the small roundabout at Ski Time Square to come back to the intersection and make a left turn back onto Mount Werner Circle, rather than making a big loop around Mount Werner Road.

We think a roundabout at the intersection would fix that problem allowing for better traffic flow and eliminating a traffic snarl that could contribute to accidents. The roundabout that was added at the intersection of Mount Werner Circle and Apres Ski Way a few years ago significantly improved traffic flow on the north side of the base area, and a second roundabout on the south side should do the same, positively impacting the overall traffic situation on the busy road.

Work on the new roundabout would begin this summer, according to Urban Renewal Authority project manager Ralph Walton.

Walton said one of the goals of the project, which is funded by URA money, is to ensure access to businesses and private property owners is maintained during construction, which is occurring during Steamboat's busy summer months in close proximity to two large lodging properties, The Steamboat Grand and the Sheraton Steamboat Resort.

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He added that the construction project would be suspended in July — the biggest month for summer tourism in Steamboat. We think this is a reasonable approach to lessening the impact a project of this magnitude could have on local businesses.

And like we witnessed when Yampa Street improvements were underway downtown, it's vitally important for the city to plan ahead and have wayfinding signs in place and a communications plan ready to launch to make sure that access to base area businesses and lodging properties is preserved during construction.

In addition to improving traffic flow and safety, we believe the new roundabout will enhance the arrival experience for people visiting Steamboat Ski Area. We also think the city should consider constructing another roundabout at Mount Werner Road and Steamboat Boulevard the summer after next to lower vehicle speeds and provide a safer and more welcoming experience for guests.

At issue: The city has announced plans to construct a roundabout at Mount Werner Circle and Ski Time Square Drive this summer.

Our view: The project is a good one and will improve traffic flow and the visitor arrival experience at Steamboat Ski Area.

Editorial Board
• Suzanne Schlicht, COO and publisher

• Lisa Schlichtman, editor

• Tom Ross, reporter

• Hannah Hoffman, community representative

• Bob Schneider, community representative

Contact the editorial board at 970-871-4221 or editor@SteamboatToday.com.