City FYI: Pedal to the metal
For Steamboat Pilot & Today
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — From first setting out and exploring the world on foot and horseback to the invention of the wheel bringing the bicycle, horse-drawn wagon and automobile, traveling has been embedded in our DNA from the very beginning.
Sitting still is not often an option that we embrace. We prefer to be in motion. Same with how we plan our future, specifically how we move around daily and how we position ourselves for new advances.
The Transportation and Mobility Plan is the city’s strategic plan for how people move around the city. This document represents the hard work and collaboration of residents, stakeholders and city staff, and it identifies a holistic vision for the future of the transportation system.
Steamboat Springs is a unique mountain community with amazing access to outdoor recreation opportunities and a deep cultural history. This plan aims to strengthen those ties by recommending transportation projects, policies and programs to increase access to the city’s historic downtown, ski areas, housing, employment and recreation.
For many years, transportation plans across the United States focused narrowly on motor vehicle travel and mitigating congestion. This approach does not include the many people who travel by walking, bicycling and transit. Over the past decade, there has been a shift in focus toward planning for cities that are walkable, bikeable and more human scale.
Focusing efforts and funding toward building a transportation network that makes it easy and safe to use all modes makes cities stronger, more resilient, more inclusive and healthier. Steamboat Springs is already ahead of the curve — the Area Community Plan and Sidewalk Master Plan are two examples of forward-thinking planning efforts that put people first.
The city has developed the Draft TMP to guide investments in transportation infrastructure and services for the next 15 to 20 years. This plan is undertaking an effort to evaluate existing transportation issues, develop solutions to address them and chart a course for funding and construction into the future.
Evaluating and identifying projects related to roadway, pedestrian, bicycle and transit improvements is the primary purpose of the plan. But it goes further, taking into consideration the many dimensions of transportation related to accessibility, quality of life and social components, such as cost of living and environmental footprint.
Given limited resources, the plan includes a prioritization framework that scores and ranks infrastructure projects according to criteria that fall under the guiding principles.
As you will see, some of the top projects come with a significant price tag. These projects are big ideas that the community has identified over time. While the near-term outlook may be financially constrained, this draft plan includes a suite of visionary projects because of their potential to meaningfully improve the transportation network. Should future conditions allow, visionary projects would be identified for further study in the long term.
The public can read and comment directly on the interactive document at EngageSteamboat.net/tmp. Users have the added benefit of seeing feedback from other community members. The public comment period ends May 14.
Specific areas of the plan we would like to call particular attention to is the Implementation Strategy section, which lays out the order in which projects will be strategically approached for completion. Public feedback is essential to refine and validate this section so that future city efforts align with the needs of the community.
Another portion of the plan to focus your attention is the Recommended Plans, Policies and Programs section. These priorities will lay the groundwork for the public discussions and more refined plans the city will consider over the next few decades.
We are fortunate to have many modes of transportation available to move us on our way. Moreover, there are new ideas and exciting concepts already on our doorstep. With so many options, selecting the correct lane as we plan our future requires the assistance and input from the entire community.
If you live in, work in, travel through or visit Steamboat Springs, the city wants to hear your voice in our planning process and right now for the Transportation and Mobility Draft Plan.
Ben Beall is an engineer with the city of Steamboat Springs.
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