Keeping pedestrians in ski boots safe at Village Drive and Après Ski Way in Steamboat Springs
Tricky intersection due for upgrades
Steamboat Springs — The intersection of Après Ski Way and Village Drive in the heart of the ski area base is quiet this time of year. But motorists and a relative handful of pedestrians have already noticed some temporary safety improvements at the intersection that buzzes with condo shuttle vans, people walking awkwardly in ski boots and city buses during the heart of ski season.
The city of Steamboat Springs Public Works Department has placed concrete safety barriers and planter boxes at the intersection corners closest to Snowflower, Dulany condominium projects and the Village Center commercial building. New crosswalks have already been painted in the streets. The temporary measures were taken as the city and the Urban Redevelopment Authority Advisory committee look forward to collaborating on more permanent improvements to the intersection, which could get underway as early as summer 2016. They were jointly funded by the city and URAAC.
“The temporary barriers serve two purposes,” Urban Renewal Authority project manager Ralph Walton said. “First, they better define pedestrian areas connected with legal crosswalk zones. Second, they narrow the travel lanes slightly, which should slow down motorists and better organize traffic flow through the intersection.”
Additional signage, accessible ramps and plantings in the planter boxes will be added in coming weeks, Walton said.
The intersection serves as the entrance to One Steamboat Place, as well as a public pedestrian access to the ski slopes’ edge near the Steamboat Ski Area’s gondola building. And skiers leaving the ski area for the day often cross the intersection with skis across their shoulders to catch a Steamboat Springs Transit bus to condos south of the base area.
The mix of pedestrians, vehicles and turning movements at the intersection is exacerbated by the steep hill to the east on Après Ski Way, which leads motorists approaching the intersection to pick up speed, often on a snow-packed surface. Add to that, the intersection is not aligned at right angles.
“Fixing this intersection has been a top priority from the beginning,” URAAC Co-Chairman David Baldinger Jr. said, “and we see the transitional improvements as a first step to making this important upgrade to the south portal of the base area a reality.”
The long-term plan, Walton said, is for this winter’s transitional improvements to eventually give way to a permanent realignment of the intersection. Two approaches were introduced during an open house in September, which was attended by more than 20 people. Consulting engineers Drexel Barrell & Company introduced two different concept incorporating new sidewalks, turn lanes, bike lanes and improved drainage.
Drexel Barrell is at work on final design efforts for the intersection, with plans for construction to begin by summer 2016.
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