Shuttle stops prove successful
Transportation group to consider regional authority
As the busy holiday season continues to unfold, officials say 10 lodging shuttle stops established in downtown Steamboat Springs have been successful at reducing traffic congestion.
Installing the stops was a relatively quick and easy effort of a transportation solutions group formed by the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association. Other ideas being considered by the group, such as the creation of a regional transportation authority for Routt and Moffat counties, could take several years to take shape.
The local transit and parking committee of the transportation group – in collaboration with local shuttle operators, businesses and the city of Steamboat Springs – created the designated stops in an effort to discourage all private shuttles from making stops on or immediately next to Lincoln Avenue.
Five stops each are on the north and south side of Lincoln Avenue on cross streets. Signs reading “lodging shuttle stop” and the stop’s location, such as Sixth Street North or 10th Street South, designate the locations. The new pickup and drop-off points are intended to relieve congestion and other problems that arise when private shuttles stop in the general flow of Lincoln Avenue traffic.
“I sure have noticed it being a lot smoother downtown,” said committee member Joe Cashen. “I think that’s a huge improvement over the last 10 years I’ve lived here at least. : It will be interesting to see whether we get any guest feedback on these things.”
Interim City Manager Wendy DuBord described the effort as a great example of a public-private partnership.
“I haven’t heard anything, which usually means things are going well,” DuBord said. “I did used to get a lot of complaints that the shuttles were stopping and blocking traffic.”
The lodging shuttle stops are the first initiative implemented by the Chamber’s transportation group, which also includes committees on U.S. Highway 40 congestion, regional transit, pedestrian and bicycle access, rural roads and air service.
“Our next step is to try and get all the working groups to identify their priorities,” said Chamber Executive Vice President Sandy Evans Hall.
Evans Hall said an open house or series of open houses would be scheduled later this winter to solicit public feedback that will be incorporated into the group’s plans.
“We’ve got probably 50 to 60 people working on making it easier to get from A to B and enhance mobility,” Cashen said. “I think you’re going to find more recommendations coming from the groups. : The more minds you throw at a problem, the better solutions you come up with.
“I don’t know if they’ll all happen as quickly (as the shuttle stops). We should be so lucky,” Cashen continued. “It was a problem we all recognized. : If all our initiatives are this well supported, we’re going to accomplish great things, to be honest.”
Evans Hall cited the striping of bike lanes as another easy step that might be undertaken by the transportation group. Other ideas may require a dedicated funding source or several years of preparation.
“I think we are definitely going to look at a regional transportation authority,” Evans Hall said.
The flexibility of an RTA, which under state law can include a vast array of transportation improvements, could be used to pay for a “grocery list” of projects, Evans Hall said. Creating one, however, can be a long and arduous process.
At an October meeting of the transportation group, Colorado Transportation Commissioner George Krawzoff – formerly Steamboat’s director of transportation – said that to put a measure on a ballot, planning authorities from all affected areas would have to agree on which projects would be built and on how those projects might be funded through vehicle registration fees, visitor benefit taxes, sales or use taxes or traveler tolls.
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It seems like the best celestial events too often happen in the wee hours of the morning, in the cold dead of winter.