CDOT works to upgrade lights along U.S. Highway 40 causing delays during morning commute |

CDOT works to upgrade lights along U.S. Highway 40 causing delays during morning commute

Traffic stretches along U.S. Highway 40 on Thursday morning headed into downtown Steamboat Springs. Crews contracted by the Colorado Department of Transportation were working to install new smart traffic signals, causing the backup on the highway.
John F. Russell

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — The commute from west of downtown Steamboat Springs took a little longer Thursday morning as crews contracted by the Colorado Department of Transportation began upgrading traffic signals along U.S. Highway 40.

“They are installing new camera detection at each one of the intersections throughout town,” city engineer Ben Beall said.

That work caused traffic to backup along U.S. 40 to Elk River Road and on 13th Street to the James Brown Soul Center of the Universe Bridge. CDOT spokesperson Tracy Trulove said the improvements will make traffic flow smoother once completed.

“It will be more reliable and expand detection through town and provide better service to the side streets,” Trulove said. “If people were not pulling all the way to the stop bars for detection, the people on the side streets were left sitting there. This will provide more efficiency where that is concerned.”

Crews could be seen Thursday using a lift truck to install cameras at the top of traffic poles. The work began Wednesday, and Trulove said the installation of cameras and conduit at 13 intersections in Steamboat will be completed by the end of the week. The system will be programmed next week.

The new system also will be able to detect whether there is a bicycle or vehicle waiting at an intersection and to advance the signal, allowing the vehicle to proceed. It doesn’t automatically trigger anything, but it does allow the main line along U.S. 40 to stay green if no vehicles are waiting at cross streets.

Beall said that will allow traffic to flow better.

Currently, most intersections have a loop detector underneath the pavement that uses electrical conduction to recognize a vehicle.

“There have been some problems with those, and they have not been as effective as the state wanted them to be and, frankly, that the city wanted them to be,” Beall said.

The city contributed $100,000 to the project but is not involved in the execution of the work.

The improvements will take place at the Walton Creek Road, Pine Grove Road, Anglers Drive and Elk River Road intersections as well as at all the intersections downtown. Beall said the only exceptions are three signals the city maintains around the Central Park area.

To reach John F. Russell, call 970-871-4209, email or follow him on Twitter @Framp1966.

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