Dave Moloney: Fix downtown bottleneck
December 27, 2006
A recent letter to the editor, regarding the proposed library expansion, pointed out the expansion’s potential effects on long term traffic solutions for the downtown area.
I share the concerns of the writer that this expansion will take away one of the best options for absorbing future traffic flow through and around downtown Steamboat Springs. A bottleneck exists at the intersection of 13th Street and U.S. 40. Every vehicle traveling east to west through Steamboat Springs must cross this intersection. Extending Yampa Street through Little Toots Park and the existing library parking lot would create a connection between 13th Street and River Road.
This could serve as an alternate route for those traveling to and from the east side of town to the ever growing areas on the west side of town. If the current plans for the library expansion are carried out, this may become impractical. I would like to propose a potential solution that would permit the library to remain in its location and allow for the road connection. Close and vacate the portion of 13th Street that is immediately in front (west) of the library and use that land to expand the library. The land between the library and the river, which is the parking lot, could then be used for a street connection between Yampa and 13th.
Removing 13th Street would allow for additional on-site parking at the expanded library. This would be an improvement over contemplated scenarios where library staff and patrons would park at the Depot and West Lincoln Park and pedestrians would then have to cross 13th Street to reach the library. This solution would have the additional benefit of creating a large, contiguous, campus like parcel from Little Toots Park to the Library and continuing on to West Lincoln Park uninterrupted by any side streets. This parcel which would include a creek, a pond, public art, trails, and playgrounds would create a picturesque gateway into the downtown area.
Perhaps the combined Library Parcel and West Lincoln Park parcel might even accommodate the new community center. The 13th Street traffic light could be relocated to 11th Street to allow for traffic flow from U.S. 40 to the Yampa Street connector for those going on to Fairview, The James Brown Bridge or Routt County Road 33.
As Steamboat continues to grow, we will all feel the growing pains associated with additional traffic. We can’t bury our heads in the sand and hope that this problem will solve itself. As a community we must make choices now to promote good public transportation and adequate infrastructure to meet our growing needs. Failure to do so will leave us all living with traffic jams that negatively affect our quality of life. I understand and appreciate that much planning and effort has gone into the Library project to this point, however, I urge the Steamboat City Council and the powers that be at the Bud Werner Library to take a long term view of this project and thoughtfully consider this and other alternatives before continuing with the planned expansion of the library.
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