Discussion over summer traffic calming actions in CB

Flower boxes (some with flowers) and block parties

By Mark Reaman

Efforts to keep traffic in Crested Butte moving slowly this summer will include focusing on the gateway entrances to town with tools to calm traffic. Expect to see flower boxes on Whiterock Avenue given Kebler Pass Road’s access to town, along the streets adjacent to Sixth Street and on Butte Avenue near Peanut Lake Road.

In a memo to council, community development director Troy Russ said town currently has 26 flower boxes to deploy on the busiest streets. They can be used as “islands” that sit in the middle of the street to force motorists to shift their drive path to the right, thus slowing them down. Chicanes, tools used on the side of roads to slow traffic, are effective traffic calming measures for busy streets. The traffic calming proposal discussed at a March 18 work session would use between 30–50 flower boxes. 

While the town staffing and budget should allow flowers to be planted in the 26 flower boxes that will be situated on Elk and Whiterock Avenues, there are staffing issues and money shortages for planting the additional boxes. Council discussed the possibility of using the boxes for more artistic endeavors instead of flowers. The issue of storing the boxes and associated art in the winter also arose as a problem.

Russ said the flower boxes need good lighting to be seen at night. He said the safety of people riding bikes at night was a major concern. Councilmember Kent Cowherd said many of the lights attached to the flower boxes in the 1990s were stolen, so he recommended making sure they were very secure.

Russ indicated to council where most of the boxes would be placed this summer given volume of traffic and speeds being recorded. Mayor Ian Billick said he wanted to make sure that neighborhoods seeing changes with traffic volume and speeds were also given consideration for placement of traffic calming tools.

Councilmember Beth Goldstone asked if Eighth Street was in line for traffic calming. Russ replied that Eighth was not since it had a path along it. Cowherd said that even so, given that Rainbow Park attracted families and children, “there is a lot of activity there in the summer. It is a good idea to slow things down in that area.”

Cowherd also wondered if traffic calming was appropriate on Belleview by Clark’s Market given the traffic volumes. Russ said the speeds were in line with safety expectations so nothing was planned for that area.

Billick asked council to stay focused on the big picture logic of a policy and let the staff determine the specifics. He noted that residents of almost any neighborhood would be asking for traffic calming measures so creating a solid policy was important. 

“What we have in the plan is what we’ve heard from the community and it aligns with data from the busiest problem streets,” said Russ.

The traffic calming flower boxes are scheduled to be placed on the streets in June, but the public works department is stretched at that time of year. Public works director Shea Earley said they would get them out as soon as possible but other tasks like street sweeping, striping and crack sealing had to be done first. Plus, he said weather that time of year always plays a role and could delay deployment.

The town will hold four neighborhood block parties this summer to actively solicit neighborhood-specific traffic calming and transportation input. Traffic data and public feedback will be compiled and ready to be discussed by January of 2025.

Russ said he will bring a detailed traffic calming plan to the council at the April 1 meeting for council’s approval. 

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