Stripes cause strife | SteamboatToday.com

Stripes cause strife

Despite outcry, narrowed shoulders could be painted today

Mike Lawrence

Steamboat Springs resident Holly Williams signals a left turn into Perry-Mansfield Performing Arts School on Thursday off Routt County Road 36. Williams said she feels safe biking on the road but was "not very happy" about the planned narrowing of the road's shoulder.

— Road stripers could widen the lanes of traffic on Routt County Road 36 as soon as today, despite strong public opposition to narrowed shoulders on the popular recreation corridor through Strawberry Park.

Routt County Commissioner Nancy Stahoviak said Thursday that she has received “an overwhelming flood of comments” about the decision to widen lanes on C.R. 36 by a foot, thus reducing the road’s shoulders to 4 feet. The Routt County Board of Commissioners voted, 2-1, in favor of the new striping Tuesday. Commissioner Doug Monger joined Stahoviak in support of the widening, which Commissioner Diane Mitsch Bush and numerous Strawberry Park residents opposed.

“I just didn’t understand why they weren’t listening to the public,” Mitsch Bush said Wednesday of her colleagues’ decision. “I didn’t understand the reasoning.”

Although Mitsch Bush said she plans to informally discuss the topic with Monger and Stahoviak next week, that conversation could occur after the lanes are realigned.

Paul Draper, the county’s road and bridge director, said the county has contracted with Patriot Highway Markings of Rifle to stripe all of the county’s paved roads – more than 150 miles – at a cost of $150,000.

“Our striper is here working,” Draper said Thursday. “If (commissioners) want to reconsider, they better do that quick.”

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Draper said the striping will continue through next week. He did not know specifically when C.R. 36 would be striped.

The stretch of road affected is from city limits to a bridge over Soda Creek. C.R. 36 ends at the Strawberry Park Hot Springs and leads to several trails and accesses to public lands. It also provides access to C.R. 38, which leads to Dry Lake Campground, Buffalo Pass and other popular areas of the Routt National Forest.

“We’re out there all the time. There’s all kinds of users, motorized and non-motorized,” said Michael Loomis, who lives with his family on C.R. 38A at the base of Buffalo Pass. “It’s not only cyclists that have a concern here – there’s a lot of runners out there, people with their dogs, horseback riders, etc. – it’s really a multi-use road.”

Loomis sent Monger and Stahoviak an e-mail expressing his concerns, as did Old Town Steamboat Springs resident Ken Kowynia.

“I rarely use that road, but I just think a general concept of favoring cars over bikes is not what this community needs to do,” Kowynia said Thursday, during Bike to Work Week in Routt County. “We need to remove all the disincentives for people riding their bikes.”

Striping for safety

Monger and Stahoviak cited safety concerns created by speeding vehicles on C.R. 36. Monger said in addition to widening the lanes, commissioners also will increase signage, ask the Routt County Sheriff’s Office to increase enforcement on the road and possibly implement new speed-monitoring measures such as photo-ticketing.

“We have to have people start being accountable to the speed limits,” Monger said, adding that the C.R. 36 issue has been “blown out of proportion.”

“It’s a foot,” he said. “We still have a 4-foot shoulder out there right now, and that’s probably more than any other road in Routt County.”

Draper said C.R. 36 is the only road with 9-foot vehicle lanes in Routt County. Winding C.R. 14, also known as River Road, has 11-foot vehicle lanes, he said.

Draper said a 2006 striping error indirectly led to the 9-foot lanes, a width he said was chosen to “calm the traffic, or at least have a higher level of attention to the driving lane” – a view contrary to that held by Monger and Stahoviak.

Stahoviak declined to comment on the issue Thursday, citing a memo that she will present today to groups including Routt County Riders.

“Nancy said she has found some more information that she would like to refer to in defense of our decision,” Monger said.

Mitsch Bush said if no additional action is taken, she intends to revisit the issue before road striping next summer.