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I-70 detour traffic causes headaches in Steamboat Springs

Each time I-70 closes through Glenwood Canyon, traffic reroutes north – and through Steamboat Springs.

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, Colo. — It’s been awfully noisy in Steamboat Springs lately.

Recurring closures along I-70 through Glenwood Canyon means drivers are detouring north. That detour route includes Highway 40 through Steamboat Springs.

“This traffic is going straight through Lincoln Avenue, which is our downtown. People are shopping and waiting to cross at crosswalks and there’s huge semis coming through, it’s just crazy,” said Shannon Lukens, News Director at Steamboat Radio.

“We’re really trying to take a deep breath and deal with traffic but it’s not fun right now.”

Friday afternoon she captured video showing semis, campers, and delivery trucks competing for road space with the pedestrians, cyclists, and tourists trying to cross the street. She said its not just Steamboat Springs, but other towns along the detour route like Craig, Meeker, and Hayden.

“We have ranchers and farmers up here and they’re trying to get through, and you might have a tractor and, all of a sudden, these semis!”

“Steamboat Springs and Hwy 40 through downtown is just not set up to handle the kind of volume you’d have on the interstate,” said Jason Lacy, a local attorney and member of the Steamboat Springs City Council.

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“The infrastructure, the size of the lanes, we’re just not set up to handle that volume of traffic on that regular of basis. It’s jamming the highway in all directions, creating a lot of bottlenecks here in our local community.”

But city leaders can’t do much, beyond try to keep locals and visitors notified of the changes as they happen.

And the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) expects more of the same. The burn scars and flooding along Glenwood Canyon will likely be a season-long problem.

“[That's] maybe the most frustrating part, we don’t know. It’s such a start and stop issue now,” Lacy said.

“Sometimes they’re able to get the interstate open and that lowers our traffic. But it might just be a few hours later that the interstate closes again. That’s the really hard piece, as far as  planning for us. We don’t know how long each even might happen or when it will occur. It could literally be within the next few hours.”

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