Thursday, May 20, 2010

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Bike Lanes Coming to Breckenridge Main Street

Soon cyclists will be able to travel Main Street in their own lanes — painted between parked cars and motor-vehicle traffic lanes.


Town council gave staff the nod to add the lanes at a recent work session, though not all were in agreement.

Councilman Peter Joyce said he was concerned with safety issues for inexperienced cyclists. He and Mark Burke both dissented from the opinion of the other five council members.

“I don't think it will be safe for kids,” Burke said in a phone interview Thursday. “When I drive down Main, it's tough enough with pedestrians ... My first concern is our citizens' safety, and that's the only reason I'm against it.”

Councilwoman Jennifer McAtamney said she keeps her young children on side streets or in Blue River Plaza when they're biking, as there are a variety of places for people of differing skill levels to ride.

“Experienced cyclists can ride on that road without much problem,” she said of Main Street. “It will be interesting to see whether narrowing those lanes visually helps slow traffic down.”

The striping of Main Street, as well as other striping and wayfinding improvements downtown, will cost $20,000. The town has $5,000 in grant money and $5,000 that was budgeted; the remaining $10,000 could come from Open Space funds.

Other improvements are to occur as shared lane markings along French Street, Wellington Road and a small segment of Lincoln Avenue.

The town was honored last year as a silver-level bicycle friendly community by the League of American Bicyclists. Its paved pathway system, singletrack trail network and other efforts were recognized. Town officials intend to improve wayfinding and safety with the new striping and some signs.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

The Annual Melt-Down of the Snow Has Started

Colorado's snowpack began melting quickly this spring because of warm, dry temperatures in early April, according to the USDA's Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS), which tracks snowpack and reservoir levels throughout the state.


Weather turned wetter and cooler throughout the mountains in late April, halting, and in some cases even reversing, the melt trend. Statistics from the latest NRCS surveys show snowpack is below average in all of the state's major river basins. Snowpack in the Blue River Basin in Summit County is 70 percent of average and 65 percent of last year's snowpack. At one NRCS survey site in the lower Snake River, snowpack is at only 7 percent of average.

“We did have some fairly warm temperatures earlier in April when melting was going on across the state for two weeks pretty steadily,” said NRCS snow survey supervisor Mike Gillespie. “We saw a lot of lower-elevation sites melting out at that time.”

Colorado's statewide snowpack decreased to the lowest reading of the season on May 1 at only 78 percent of average.

“For the most part, any gains we saw during the last week of April were far surpassed by the melt we saw earlier in the month,” said Allen Green, state conservationist with the NRCS.

Across northern Colorado, where the lowest snowpack readings have been recorded all season, snowpack declines were minimal in April. Basins showing the greatest declines during April included the Gunnison, Arkansas, Rio Grande and the combined San Juan, Animas, Dolores and San Miguel basins.

Monthly precipitation data collected at automated NRCS sites across higher elevations showed an above-average total for April across the Gunnison, Colorado, South Platte, Yampa, White and North Platte basins. For most of the region, April's above-average precipitation breaks a five-month-long dry period where the NRCS recorded below-average moisture. Statewide precipitation during April was 117 percent of average and was the first month of above-average precipitation recorded for the state since December 2009.

Late-season improvements in the snowpack will have positive impacts on this summer's runoff and water supplies, according to Green. However, forecasts of seasonal runoff volumes will remain below average, and in many locations across northern Colorado, this year's summer water supplies continue to be forecast at well below average volumes.



Inflow into Dillon Reservoir is expected to be 73 percent of average during the April-July period. Inflows into Green Mountain Reservoir and Williams Fork Reservoir are projected to be 75 percent of average and 78 percent of average, respectively.



“Reservoir stores are now in good shape, but they'll probably drop quite a bit as we go into the fall. They will be put to use in late summer to make up for these deficits in natural flows,” Gillespie said. “Without having much of a cushion, it increases the need for a good year next year.”