Construction at a stand still |

Construction at a stand still

Main Street headaches delayed until '09

Downtown businesses are breathing a sigh of relief after the Colorado Department of Transportation pushed back major work on Lincoln Avenue.

The delay will give businesses three years to prepare for what could be a significant impact.

CDOT put off a “mill and fill” for the downtown portion of U.S. Highway 40 until the summer of 2009. The project likely would take more than a month and involves removing the top few inches of pavement and laying down a fresh layer of asphalt.

The street maintenance originally was planned for next summer and then pushed back to the summer of 2008 after city officials told CDOT they are researching their own streetscape improvements to the downtown area. Other projects took priority, and because of budget constraints, work on Lincoln Avenue is not expected to begin until summer 2009.

“This will give them a chance to work through those plans,” CDOT spokeswoman Nancy Shanks said.

Roadwork is slated for Routt County Road 131 and U.S. Highway 40 on Rabbit Ears Pass next summer, Shanks said.

Main Street Steamboat Springs Executive Director Tracy Barnett said downtown businesses could use the extra time to prepare for the street improvements.

“When CDOT came to us, we said, ‘hold on,'” Barnett said.

Dust, noise and traffic will be issues, but she said the biggest challenge will be working with CDOT on the timing of the project so it has the smallest impact on Steamboat’s summer tourism. Large events — such as the Steamboat Marathon, Mustang Round-Up and Cowboy Round-Up Days — count on the use of Lincoln Avenue in the summer.

Some cities have come up with jingles or have outfitted residents with hardhats to help lighten the mood and create diversions for inconveniences that come with a major project in downtown, Barnett said. Steamboat could do the same thing. Businesses will have to provide incentives for patrons to negotiate the construction and come downtown.

“People are going to have to be creative,” Barnett said.

The delay will allow the Main Street Design Committee ample time to research and come up a plan for improvements that could be done at the same time as the street work.

“There was no way that we could have gotten those things done and taken care of by next year,” Barnett said.

Improvements being researched include widening sidewalks, adding medians and bump-outs on corners. Bump-outs can act to calm traffic, shorten crosswalk distances and provide space for public art and greenery.

The Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association will work to keep its members informed about what is in store for summer 2009, Chamber spokeswoman Riley Polumbus said. She does not see the roadwork deterring people from coming to Steamboat, she said.

“Construction anywhere in Colorado is definitely something that comes up in the summer,” Polumbus said. “It’s just kind of part of the deal.”

— To reach Matt Stensland call 871-4210

or e-mail

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