City experimenting with temporary sidewalk on 11th Street
Sidewalk under consideration as city plans bridge repair
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — You won’t see any mad scientists, monsters or colorful smoke rising out of beakers, but the city is conducting a Halloween experiment on 11th Street in downtown Steamboat Springs.
The city is in the early stages of designing and engineering new sidewalks and bridges in the area of 11th and Oak streets. To inform that design, city engineers have created a “simulated” sidewalk using rubber bumpers to build a temporary sidewalk on the east side of the street between Lincoln Avenue and Oak Street.
“Using these rubber stops, we’ve effectively simulated, at least spatially, what a sidewalk would feel like,” said public works engineer Danny Paul.
Paul said the project in the area will replace or modify two bridges over Soda Creek on Oak and 11th streets after the Colorado Department of Transportation identified the bridges as at risk of scour. Bridge scour occurs in high flows when fast-moving water removes sediment from around a bridge’s abutments, which can cause the bridge to fail.
Paul said the bridges are safe to drive over, but having been built about 50 to 70 years ago, it’s time for an update.
“They’re due for replacement, and we want to replace them and improve them, and then also use that opportunity to make other improvements,” Paul said. “It would present an opportunity to make them slightly longer, which would allow us to make sidewalk connections across them to connect that whole area. That’s the centerpiece — replacing (the bridges) and improving them and looking at opportunities to make them bigger and longer.”
In tandem with the bridge fix, the city is designing new sidewalks on the west side of 11th Street and the south side of Oak Street and refurbishing the existing sidewalk on the east side of 11th to make it accessible to people with disabilities. As part of the experiment, the city is testing different sidewalk widths.
Adding sidewalks will narrow the roadway, and because 11th Street is used as a detour when Lincoln Avenue is closed for events on July 4, Halloween and Winter Carnival, Paul said engineers want to see how a narrowed road would function for both daily traffic and heavier trucks that would use the detour. For that reason, the rubber bumpers will be in place until after the Halloween Stroll.
“We want to see that night, when we put that detour in place, how the sidewalk and parking areas play into the ability for larger U.S. Highway 40 vehicles to use 11th Street,” Paul said. “We are predicting that, likely, there needs to be a closure of some parking spaces near 11th and Lincoln to allow for those, primarily for those big semi-truck or tractor-trailer combos to make the turn and not run into the back of a parked vehicle.”
City staff have also been taking notes on how daily traffic flows through the street with the narrower configuration.
“It’s very obvious to me that a lot of people use that side street to get off Lincoln and over to Oak Street,” Paul said. “In doing so, it’s not only quite a bit of traffic, but people move pretty quickly through there. They drive pretty fast.”
Paul said a narrower street might create a secondary benefit of slowing down traffic on the block.
While people are starting to use the simulated sidewalk, pedestrians still frequently walk in the roadway or jaywalk across the street, he said. Parking in the area is in high demand and highly utilized, he added.
“A project goal of ours is to minimize loss of public parking and even go as far as having zero net loss of parking in this area,” Paul said.
The city will continue to design the project from now through 2020. Construction is planned in 2022 or 2023. Design for the project is currently funded through the city budget, but Paul said the city is applying for state transportation grants to fund construction of the project.
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