Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Construction in Steamboat means better access downtown

Since mid-April Steamboat Springs' downtown section of CO Hwy 40 has been under construction in a $4.5million project to repave the 10-block stretch with a more durable surface - concrete. Due to a wetter spring than average, the project started slow and made for a tough spring, but now that summer has hit the vacation resort town with thousands of tourists, the construction traffic, which at times can be backed up for over an hour to go three miles, has made most locals frustrated at best.

But where most see a nuisance to their daily routine, Steamboat visitors and locals who use mobility devices will (eventually) appreciate the new downtown in ways most won't even notice.

Scott Construction is not just repaving the five lanes with concrete, on many blocks they have ripped up 100 feet of connecting side streets as well to improve the crosswalks with a red concrete cross walk and wider, smoother curb-cut transitions.

In mountain towns like Steamboat, the curbs take the brunt of the winter plows and have needed an overhaul for many years. Many curbs were crumbled and on some blocks they were nearly too small for a wheelchair or non existent at all. Several streets didn't have striped cross walks, although tourists and locals alike disregarded this and crossed against fast, oncoming traffic; nor did these streets have stop lights.

The improvements have also included several new traffic lights (such as at 11th), some with turn-lane signals to help keep traffic from backing up behind cars turning left across traffic. But many new crosswalks and crossing signals have been added to help smooth the downtown foot traffic as well.

All these new additions mean better accessibility for wheelchairs, strollers, and slow walkers through downtown, and will prove to freshen up the look of the downtown as well.

Although Scott Construction was under contract to finish the job by June 30th, the uncooperative spring weather has made sure that Steamboat will be seeing more of this crew's equipment in the fall months as well, much to Steamboat's chagrin.

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