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CB summer traffic control not an option for council

A dozen flaggers and construction vibe not appealing, patience is a virtue

By Mark Reaman

The Crested Butte Town Council idea to direct traffic along Sixth Street in town during the busiest hours of the busiest days in the heart of summer was squashed Monday night by money and manpower.

Much of Sixth Street is actually state Highway 135 and is controlled by the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT). When approached by Crested Butte public works director Rodney Due about possibly using local traffic control personnel to speed traffic through town, CDOT officials said it would have to be done professionally and use adequate personnel at the three main intersections: Sixth and Elk, Sixth and Gothic and Sixth and Belleview. That would take about 12 flaggers, construction signs and highway cones. Due contacted CC Enterprises, a traffic control specialist company out of Grand Junction. Their estimate for each day of work came out to be about $6,600.

That stunned the Town Council.

“That certainly seems like a big, big number,” said councilman Kent Cowherd, who initially brought up the idea of controlling traffic during busy summer periods. “Twelve people for three intersections and an entire eight-hour day. It just seems over the top.”

“CDOT is in control of two of the three intersections,” said Due. “They insisted on professionals. Their concern is safety.”

“I agree it is way-overkill,” said mayor Jim Schmidt.

“Perhaps we try it for a few days on the busiest days and see how it works,” said Cowherd. “I am cautious about not doing anything. Our town will be overrun at times. But this is obviously not a solution.”

“The costs could maybe be massaged,” said Due.

Crested Butte chief marshal Mike Reily said his officers direct traffic through town during special events at times, with the end of the Fourth of July festivities being the most high-profile. “After the fireworks in Mt. Crested Butte, it takes us about an hour to get it cleared through town,” he said. “We need at least two officers at the Four-way and one at the other two intersections. It isn’t easy with pedestrians and traffic.”

“I’m certainly not comfortable spending that amount of money,” said Schmidt.

“I’d rather take some of it and put it toward the marshal’s department,” suggested councilman Jackson Petito.

Reily reaffirmed that his department did not have the manpower to regularly take on traffic control during the busy time of the summer.

“I don’t want to direct our marshals to do this job but every day in July is like an event during certain parts of the day,” said Cowherd.

“I felt the idea was worth discussing but when it comes down to the CDOT requirements where it makes it look like a construction zone, it doesn’t attract me,” said councilman Chris Haver. “I’m not even interested in testing this because of what it would look like. I think the solution might be patience.”

“I am disappointed it is so cost-prohibitive,” said Cowherd.

“It is probably a five- or six-minute delay,” suggested Haver.

“I think it is a two-song time span between the cemetery and the school,” agreed Cowherd.

“As long as the song isn’t In A Gadda Da Vida or Alice’s Restaurant,” noted Schmidt.

“Fewer cars in town is the ultimate solution,” suggested Petito,

The council will take no action to further control traffic on Sixth Street this summer.

Town manager Dara MacDonald noted in a memo to the council on the matter, “If the council’s concern is to keep vehicles flowing through town on Sixth Street, you may want to revisit the recommendations from the 2015 Transportation Plan for suggestions on long-term solutions.” Among those suggestions was the use of roundabouts on Sixth Street.

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