City plans more pedestrian-safety improvements on 13th Street
Steamboat Springs — Megan Moore-Kemp is one of the many Fairview residents with a horror story about 13th Street.
In 2010, Kemp was walking on the narrow shoulder of the road that connects her tight-knit neighborhood to downtown when a horse trailer passed her and a door on the trailer inadvertently popped open.
Had the door opened a second earlier, it would have struck her.
“It was a really scary thing,” Moore-Kemp said.
Since then, Moore-Kemp has banded together with other Fairview residents to press the city to make the busy street safer and add a sidewalk.
The city is listening.
After years of complaints about the safety of the street that is used by many bikers and Fairview residents, there are now plans to install new digital speed limit signs this spring that will aim to slow down vehicular traffic.
A new sidewalk also is planned in the coming years that will allow pedestrians to make the walk to the library or downtown without walking close to traffic.
The plans follow the recent installation of yellow pedestrian signs and signage warning drivers to slow down because they are entering a neighborhood.
“I would say I feel lucky to be a part of the process” of getting the improvements, Kemp said. “I’m also lucky I have neighbors who really care a lot too. I’m not alone.”
To help make their case for safety improvements, Fairview residents wanted some data.
So in the summer, a community survey about the safety of 13th Street was emailed out to 100 of the neighborhood’s residents.
Of the 51 people who responded, 41 felt the street was somewhat or very dangerous for pedestrians and cyclists.
Only one person replied that they felt the street was “very safe.”
Many respondents shared their own stories of close calls with vehicles that either were going too fast or that lost control in ice and came sliding into the shoulder.
Then they weighed in on their preferred methods of improving the street.
A lower speed limit, stop signs and a sidewalk were the most popular improvements.
Last week, Moore-Kemp and a group of residents took their findings to the Steamboat Springs City Council and asked for improvements.
“I feel like we’re at a critical point where a major accident or injury could happen,” Moore-Kemp said.
On Wednesday, Moore-Kemp met with Public Works Director Chuck Anderson, Police Captain Jerry Stabile and City Engineer Ben Beall to brainstorm ways the street could be made safer for pedestrians.
The city officials who called the meeting told Kemp of their plans to install the new digital speed limit signs on the road that flash when drivers are going above the speed limit.
Anderson said the city studied traffic patterns on the street and the results justified the installation of the new permanent speed limit signs.
In addition, the city is proposing to build a new sidewalk on the south side of 13th where it runs from the bridge over the Yampa River to the Lithia Springs road.
The project is one of many downtown infrastructure upgrades City Council endorsed Tuesday night, and it could be funded by an urban renewal authority and tax increment financing.
The timing of the project in the coming years will depend on where the sidewalk ranks in the list of downtown projects.
“We’re making the most progress we’ve ever made on this issue in the last few months,” Moore-Kemp said. “I feel positive about it. What I shared with city staff is I want this to be important regardless of what happens with the URA. It’s a life safety issue, and it needs to happen.”
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