Friday, May 23, 2008

Main Street Makover

Main Street makeover
City prepares for 2009 Lincoln Avenue overhaul
By Brandon Gee (Contact)
Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Steamboat Springs, Colorado — Forget all the construction under way in Old Town; the reconstruction of U.S. Highway 40 may result in a very different-looking downtown Steamboat Springs in coming years. At its meeting tonight, the Steamboat Springs City Council will see two presentations covering a number of certain and potential changes to Lincoln Avenue, as it is known through city limits.

Beginning in 2009, a repaving of the street from Third to 13th streets is a certainty. The repaving is a project of the Colorado Department of Transportation, which has jurisdiction over the federal highway, unlike other Steamboat streets, over which the city has sole say. The $10.5 million project is being paid for by federal and state funds and will begin in September 2009.
Public Works Director Philo Shelton said the start date should be a relief to downtown business owners and others, because CDOT originally planned to repave the road in the traffic-heavy summer. The construction will take a break during ski season. It will resume and is planned for completion in spring 2010.

Shelton said the repaving will be carried out in two-block intervals and that traffic lanes would be reduced in construction zones but not eliminated entirely. CDOT is leaning toward repaving the road with concrete rather than asphalt, Shelton said.
City Manager Alan Lanning said concrete is more durable, but he acknowledged it could have negative aesthetic effects. “To some degree, concrete changes the character of the road,” Lanning said. “I think asphalt has a more rustic feel to it than concrete does. Concrete seems likes an interstate to me.” Nonetheless, Lanning said he would rather have the road last 15 to 20 years than the five- to seven-year life of asphalt. Shelton said there also are cost advantages to concrete. Although asphalt is usually cheaper and quicker, Shelton said some unique characteristics of Lincoln Avenue make concrete the easier alternative in this situation.
Although the city is not paying for any of the repaving project, Shelton said the city intends to coincide some projects of its own with the work. He said the city will take advantage of the street being torn up to install underground utility work. More visible improvements also are being considered.

A traffic analysis conducted by consultants PBS&J has resulted in recommendations such as moving the traffic light at Eighth Street to 11th Street, limiting pedestrian crossing to intersections with traffic lights, and providing bus bays at the far side of signaled intersections. Off Lincoln Avenue, the study also recommends the addition of striped bike lanes on Oak, Yampa, Fifth and 11th streets.

After a series of public meetings last year, a separate study looking at a revitalization of streetscapes was put on hold while the PBS&J study was completed. Officials said the traffic analysis was necessary to make sure Britina Design Group’s $439,000 Downtown Streetscape Improvement Plan would fit needed pedestrian, bicycle and vehicle improvements.
Shelton said that if council members are amenable to PBS&J’s recommendations, “We’ll proceed with the streetscape designs to match those recommendations.”
— To reach Brandon Gee, call 871-4210
or e-mail

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