Businesses question city

Traffic study outlines vehicle, pedestrian patterns

— The results of a controversial traffic test at Mount Werner Circle conducted by a consultant for the city were important enough for the Mountain Business Association to hire its own consultant to check up on the economic impacts of the results the city got.

The traffic test around Mount Werner Circle continued throughout the winter and was monitored by consultants PBS&J over three high-activity weekends: New Year's weekend, Martin Luther King Jr. Day weekend and President's Day weekend.

The test involved closing off one lane of traffic on each side of the circle and tracking pedestrian movement around the entrances to the Grand near Burgess Creek Road and Ski Time Square access routes.

The consultants found that the slow down generated by the closure of the lanes did not affect the level of traffic significantly enough to make the change out of the question. Unless future development quickly brings more people into the area, the level of traffic should remain adequate even with heavy volumes of people.

Even after build-out of the mountain area is complete, the city could still mitigate the impacts of the increased traffic with a police crossing guard at high-volume times, the consultants suggested.

The consultants also recommended placing more signs in the area to explain to people how traffic is supposed to move around the circle and where pedestrians should cross the street.

The test was commissioned in conjunction with the opening of the Steamboat Grand and the completion of the city's Mountain Town Sub-Area Plan.

Council also decided to ask city staff to look into other aspects of pedestrian and vehicle movement in the mountain area, perhaps testing movement at spots like the intersection of Village Drive and Apres Ski Way.

The Mountain Business Association is concerned that the city's changes could severely impact the customers that would be headed towards their businesses, though a few people involved in the mountain business community showed up at the meeting to say that the results seemed fair and accurate.

The consultant hired by the MBA likewise found the test to be fair, though the city manager was upset at the fact that the MBA had hired someone to check the results.

"I was very disappointed that Anne Ricker was at the MBA's request put on the monitoring committee... but did not show up at a single meeting and had been hired by the MBA to observe our consultants conducting the traffic study," said City Manager Paul Hughes.

MBA President Doug Terry of Terry Sports, however, said the MBA, which did not have enough money to get the consultants to come to Steamboat for every meeting, was simply trying to protect the interests of the business community.

"The MBA hired our consultant to advise them about the economic impacts and to communicate with City Council the importance of watching economic impacts," he said.

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