Electronic signs aim to ease traffic snarls entering Breckenridge | VailDaily.com

Electronic signs aim to ease traffic snarls entering Breckenridge

Robert Allen
summit daily news

BRECKENRIDGE – Seasonal traffic messes have Breckenridge officials considering electronic signs at two key locations, but not all of the town’s council members are on board.

“This is the antithesis to what our community’s done over last at least 20 years with signage – how the town looks, the feel,” Councilman Eric Mamula said of a suggested sign placement along Highway 9 north of town.

The highway sign would be double-sided, and it would be used to direct arriving vehicles and give departing vehicles a report on Interstate 70 traffic and road conditions. A single-sided sign at the base of the Breck Connect Gondola would also offer conditions – as well as potentially persuade guests to stay in town until traffic dissipates.

The other six council members at Tuesday’s work session said they would support the signs. Mayor John Warner said the signs would help with parking, preventing the unnecessary idling of vehicles.

“It’s a greener way to go,” he said.

As parking lots fill on busy days, many people drive into the heart of town only to be turned away to the satellite lot off Airport Road.

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“This is not providing good customer service and it also creates unnecessary vehicular traffic in town. I would say that this easily happens at least 50 times a ski season,” according to a town staff memo from police chief Rick Holman.

Breckenridge Ski Resort last season was the most-visited ski area in the United States, with about 1.6 million guests. With a highway-widening project slated for completion this fall, even more vehicles will be entering town at the same time.

The existing wayfinding system involving sandwich boards has proven insufficient, and town staff have been working with the ski resort to find a long-term solution for managing traffic.

The signs would also be used for marketing – to display upcoming events, for example.

“Communication is critical in anything you do, and I think this is the way,” Councilman Mark Burke said. “If we’re going to have it, we should take advantage of it. Before people leave this week, people ought to know Oktoberfest is next week.”

Mamula suggested that outside peak traffic days, the signs could be covered with boards welcoming people to town or thanking them for visiting. Other council members supported this idea.

They also backed the suggestion the signs be bordered with something like a tasteful wood frame – consistent with signs through town.

The resort has offered to partner with the town in purchasing the signs. For the north end of town, a 4 foot by 6 foot sign costing $10,625 has been proposed. It would use LED lighting and use red or amber monochrome.

A full-color sign is proposed for $13,195. Several council members favored the full-color option.

A smaller, less-expensive sign is recommended for the base of the gondola.

For the upcoming ski season, temporary signs on trailers are likely to be used as the town tests them out before purchasing permanent fixtures.

“I completely support it,” said Councilman Mike Dudick, adding that the town has been considering a $2 million marketing budget.

“The cheapest people in the history of the world to market to is the current customer … It’s not quite the rustic mountain town (look), but I think that’s more a local issue than it is for our guests.”

SDN reporter Robert Allen can be contacted at (970) 668-4628 or rallen@summitdaily.com.