Expect traffic delays next week as city studies new intersection planned for Downhill Drive | SteamboatToday.com

Expect traffic delays next week as city studies new intersection planned for Downhill Drive

An initial rendering of the planned new intersection at Downhill and Riverside drives on the west side of Steamboat Springs, featuring the widening of U.S. Highway 40 to four lanes and a traffic light at the intersection, along with foot and bicycle traffic improvements.
Courtesy photo

Motorists should expect delays beginning next week in the area of Downhill Drive and Riverside Drive as the city of Steamboat Springs conducts exploratory work for the planned new intersection.

According to the city, expected impacts starting Monday will involve shoulder closures along U.S. Highway 40 near the intersection, lane shifts on Downhill and Riverside Drives, as well as some time periods where alternating lanes directed by flaggers will be necessary on the approach legs to U.S. 40.

Traffic impacts will vary throughout the week as the exploratory crew moves around the area. Work progress and timing is subject to change due to weather.

“The planned effort next week is to identify underground utility conflicts as part of design of the intersection. The intent of this exploration is to avoid costly delays that can result during the construction phase of the project,” said Ben Beall, city engineer and project manager. “In these areas of density, there are a significant number of utilities located underground that are a major point of focus for a project of this magnitude.”

Current plans call for the widening of U.S. 40 to four lanes and placing a new traffic light at the intersection of Downhill Drive and the highway, which is a high priority for improvement, according to Beall. Traffic modeling has shown that growth on Steamboat’s west side would enhance the need.

“Completing the design and putting the city in a shovel-ready position to build the intersection when funding becomes available is the current objective,” Beall said.

The city has hired Steamboat-based Baseline Engineering to design the intersection and the larger project, which includes aligning Downhill Drive and Riverside Drive, installing traffic lights, planning for expansion of U.S. 40, as well as improving pedestrian, bicycle and transit service to the intersection.

Beall said the city does not yet have a cost estimate for the project, as construction costs typically increase each year. Though the project has been in discussions for several years as several city master plans and community surveys have anticipated growth in west Steamboat.

“It’s also the future subdivisions that may come online in the future,” Beall said. “There are families and kids that are trying to get onto the bus or get over to the (Yampa River) Core Trail without a place to cross 40, and we don’t want to lose site of the nonvehicular users on the road.”

The city continues to work through the multi-year design effort with the Colorado Department of Transportation to redesign the intersection. Currently there is no timeline for construction of the intersection, but design is planned to be done in 2023, according to the city.

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