Our View: Ready for Round 2 | SteamboatToday.com

Our View: Ready for Round 2

You almost can hear the collective groan to be let out by Routt County residents Tuesday morning when they realize downtown U.S. Highway 40 construction has begun anew. After enjoying two months of construction-free travel, it’ll be hard to blame them.

But as we did during the height of Phase 1 of the project in the spring, it’s worth reminding residents of the long-term benefits of the $5.6 million job. We’ve already seen some of the pluses this summer in the form of a new traffic signal at 11th Street, dedicated left-turn signals at eastbound Third Street and westbound Fifth Street, and inlaid crosswalks easily distinguishable to motorists and pedestrians. The new concrete surface itself is more attractive than asphalt and should hold up much better — and longer — to the stresses of vehicular traffic and inclement Northwest Colorado weather.

There also are significant improvements that aren’t as visible. Sewer upgrades and new fiber optic lines connecting downtown’s signals to one another will aid traffic flow through our historic shopping and dining district.

We realize those improvements are little consolation to some downtown business owners who blame the construction for decreased business during an already challenging recession. We applaud those businesses that have been creative in how they attract patrons to their shops and restaurants during the construction — we’ve seen everything from two-for-one entrée specials to free merchandise delivery options from businesses that never before offered delivery service. As with the first round of U.S. 40 work in spring, it’s important that residents continue to frequent their favorite downtown locations. Money spent in the local economy tends to stay in the local economy.

The second and final phase of U.S. 40 work should resemble what we became accustomed to in the first go-round. According to the Colorado Department of Transportation, work generally will take place from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mondays through Fridays. Some additional night and weekend work also is expected. Expect only one lane of travel in each direction through the heart of downtown during the duration of the project, which is scheduled to be finished by Nov. 18.

Work will take place in three-block sections, beginning with excavation of the old asphalt surface and concluding with concrete pours and curing. Crews will begin excavating the next three-block section while concrete work is completed on the previous section. That means the potential of one-lane of travel all the way from 11th Street to Third Street. And as we know from spring, that also means potential for significant delays.

Fortunately, the weather still is nice and the Yampa River Core Trail remains a great option for getting to, from and through town. For those who will keep to their cars and trucks, remember to obey all traffic restrictions through the construction zone. Showing a little respect for your fellow driver or pedestrian can go a long way toward making the next two months tolerable and safe.

Soon, we’ll have a completely redone Lincoln Avenue through downtown. Memories of construction hassles and delays will quickly fade, and our beautiful downtown thoroughfare will remind us of how badly similar improvements are needed on Yampa Street and its budding business district.

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