Transit center being modified

Road will be narrowed; mobility will be improved

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— With the construction of the Steamboat Grand, the area around Mount Werner Circle will receive some major upgrades, not the least of which will take place at the Gondola Transit Center.

Under a development agreement with Grand Summit Resort Properties, the city will share the cost of a number of modifications, including the narrowing of Mount Werner Circle to one lane in each direction.

The move to narrow Mount Werner Circle is meant to help pedestrians cross the road safely, said Public Works Director Jim Weber. The less pavement people have to cross, the less likely they are to get into an accident, he said.

The improvements also include better signage on the circle, making sure drivers and pedestrians alike know where people should cross the street.

Some City Council members expressed concern last winter about a lack of sufficient signage notifying people the circle was being narrowed from to two lanes to one.

The Grand will foot much of the bill, though the city will also need to pay for a portion of the changes by Dec. 31, 2002. City Manager Paul Hughes said the city has enough money in its 2002 budget to help make the modifications.

The Gondola Transit Center, where buses and vans drop people off to go to the mountain, will be altered and expanded to improve mobility through the area and to make sure it is as pedestrian-friendly as possible while accommodating different modes of transportation.

The improvements at the transit center will require creative financing such as special improvement districts. The improvement districts would need to be approved by a vote of the participants.

The Grand, under the terms of the development agreement, will pay $100,000 toward the project as long as the city substantially completes it by Dec. 31, 2003. If the city does not do so, the Grand's obligation goes away and the city is stuck in a slightly deeper hole. The city, however, may be able to pay for much of the center with a federal grant, depending on the terms attached to the grant, Hughes said.

Final numbers for the transit center have not yet been determined, but initial estimates put the project in the range of $800,000, Hughes said.

Doug Terry of Terry Sports suggested the city should not focus exclusively on the area around the Grand when deciding where to allocate money in the future. Terry is concerned the city will spend money for improvements on the area near the Grand instead of allocating more to other areas, such as the Ski Time Square Turnaround.

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