Steamboat base area construction heats up |

Steamboat base area construction heats up

Restored Burgess Creek carries a trickle of water at ski area

Urban Renewal Area Advisory Committee members tour the promenade construction project Thursday at the base of Steamboat Ski Area.

— The committee overseeing the work on the new public promenade at the base of Steamboat Ski Area had a chance to put hiking shoes on dirt Thursday and tour the construction. They liked what they saw.

"I could see children playing in the creek right here," Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. President Chris Diamond said. "I don't see why not."

The $4.5 million, three-year project is in go mode during the last days of summer. It is funded by growth in property taxes within a district that encompasses most of the vacation lodging at the mountain village.

"The emphasis right now is finishing the snowmelt system working to the outside from Gondola (Square) and the Sheraton," said Derrick Duckels, project manager for Duckels Construction. "The last thing we'll work on is the creek right there, and we'll finish with some plantings."

Coils of bright red plastic tubing that will carry the snowmelt fluid beneath new brick pavers were strategically placed and waiting for installation. Cement trucks were making pours Thursday in advance of the tubing being buried in sand before the pavers are set.

"The promenade will be 20- to 30-feet wide along its entire length," Steve Frasier said from a vantage point in front of the Sheraton Steamboat Resort. He is chairman of the Urban Renewal Area Advisory Committee that makes recommendations to the City Council in its role as the Urban Renewal Authority.

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The most obvious place to get a sense of the width of the promenade is directly opposite the small staircase that leads up to the Bear River Bar & Grill deck.

Steamboat residents may not fully grasp how wide a 20- to 30-foot promenade is until they show up to ski this winter and have a chance to observe firsthand how it transforms the snow edge where skiers and snowboarders coming off the mountain will stop to remove their equipment and step onto the dry pavers.

Already, private snowmelt projects in Gondola Square and at Torian Plum are complete. And a section of the public snowmelt project has been installed where a circular ramp covered by pavers and a fan-shaped staircase ascend the grade to Torian Plum are in place. The steel railings along the ramp, topped with copper rails, have been welded into place.

Ironically, what is shaping up to be the most dramatic aspect of the entire project, the day-lighting of Burgess Creek and the enormous sandstone slabs that will line it, are destined be covered by snow early in the ski season.

"The artistry that went into placing those stones is amazing," city engineer Janet Hruby said. "A lot of underground work has already been done so the pretty things can be placed over the top."

The rectangular sandstone slabs are known as siloam stone, Duckels said. Siloam is part of the Dakota formation quarried from the prairies near Colorado Springs. In Steamboat, the slabs have been used to line staircases as well as to create seating areas and natural looking bridges as well as to contain Burgess Creek.

A portion of the creek's natural flow was being diverted via fire hoses into the lower section of the completed creek bed in front of One Steamboat Place on Thursday, giving a sense of what it will look like next summer.

The creek bed itself is being lined with membranes and covered with small, rounded rocks, project spokeswoman Lyn Halliday said.

The water in the creek will be diverted into a pre-existing culvert system in winter, where it has flowed for the history of Steamboat Ski Area. But the same diversion system will be used during peak streamflows to manage how much water makes it into the new creek bed. That will allow the stream to flow at family friendly levels all spring, summer and fall.

When the snow melts in spring and the area dries up, visitors will be able to observe firsthand how the restoration of Burgess Creek will transform the base of the ski area.

"We expect the promenade and the creek to be done by late fall," Hruby said earlier in the summer. "We might have a soft opening the day before the ski area opens. The project will be complete in June 2012, and we are planning a ribbon cutting July 4."

To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205 or email

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