Roundabouts one way to meet several goals at approach to resort base | SteamboatToday.com
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Roundabouts one way to meet several goals at approach to resort base

The intersection of Apres Ski Way and Mount Werner Circle demonstrates how a traffic roundabout can also host landscaping and provide directional signage.
Tom Ross

Options for improving the arrival experience at the Steamboat Ski Area

• A system to inform people arriving at the ski base of the status of parking lots

• Better lighting for night arrivals

• Signage directing arrivals on U.S. Highway 40, both from the west and Yampa Valley Regional Airport, and from the east to preferred routes for lodging check-in or attractions

— Consultants advising the city of Steamboat Springs and its redevelopment authority have concluded that several new traffic roundabouts could benefit the arrival experience for guests approaching the ski area’s resort base on multiple levels.

Brent Lloyd, principle of BrightView Design Group in Denver, said Aug. 25 that he had never experienced as much consensus as heard this week from the 80 to 90 people who dropped in to a series of open houses on the base area arrival experience.

Options for improving the arrival experience at the Steamboat Ski Area

• A system to inform people arriving at the ski base of the status of parking lots

• Better lighting for night arrivals

• Signage directing arrivals on U.S. Highway 40, both from the west and Yampa Valley Regional Airport, and from the east to preferred routes for lodging check-in or attractions

But it was the reaction of 14 lodging shuttle and transit drivers to the possibility of creating a new roundabout on Mount Werner Circle at the entrance to Ski Time Square that really got Lloyd’s attention.

“It was just kind of an immediate aha,” Lloyd said. “The drivers said, ‘Don’t wait for development, just get started.’”

What Lloyd and his colleague, BrightView project designer Brad Snopek, learned is that contrary to expectations, drivers making a right turn out of the Gondola Transit Center headed for resort condominiums to the south don’t go all the way around Mount Werner Circle.

Instead, they almost immediately turn right into Ski Time Square to loop around a poorly designed roundabout and then wait to make a left turn on Mount Werner Circle to reverse course in front of The Steamboat Grand.

A roundabout in that intersection would do a lot to keep traffic moving and eliminate left turns, Lloyd said.

The same benefits could be realized further down the approach to the ski mountain at the intersections of Mount Werner Road and Steamboat Boulevard, and at Mount Werner Road and Mount Werner Circle, where roundabouts would calm vehicle speeds, providing a safer experience for guests.

And the centers of the roundabouts would open up new possibilities to further enhancing the arrival experience, becoming a place for wayfinding signs, night lighting and landscaping. The roundabouts could someday host public art that evokes Steamboat’s ranching heritage, like an authentic looking cattle-loading chute or a hay rack.

No decisions to build roundabouts or any other projects have been made, and completion of projects that are eventually endorsed may be years in the future.

The goal, Lloyd said, is to provide guests with a safe, intuitive arrival at the ski base that leaves them happy. And the departure experience from the resort at the end of a vacation shouldn’t be overlooked.

“Departure is really important,” Lloyd said. “If I have a bad last day, all the great moments on the ski mountain can be destroyed in 15 minutes of hassles.”

To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205, email tross@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ThomasSRoss1


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