Mount Werner improvements set to begin

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— Road improvements to Mount Werner Circle will begin Monday, with upgrades to the Gondola Transit Center expected to follow in the fall.

The city will narrow Mount Werner Circle from Burgess Creek Road to the Gondola Transit Center. The construction will modify the four-lane road to two lanes and provide auxiliary turning lanes in both directions.

The city also will repave, add new curbs, complete gutter work and realign the medians.

City Public Works Director Jim Weber said delays are to be expected, but lanes will be kept open in both directions. Realigning the medians will happen first and should be finished within in 90 days.

The project will cost $365,000, close to the amount the city had estimated.

At Tuesday night's City Council meeting, Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. President Chris Diamond and City Manager Paul Hughes presented a plan for $550,000 of improvements to the Gondola Transit Center.

The city and Grand Summit Property Resorts are sharing costs for the Mount Werner Circle improvements and Gondola Transit Center remodel.

According to the plans, three bus bays will be added, part of which will be accommodated by putting the area's drainage system underground.

A canopy would be added to the bus dropoff and pickup area, as well as better lighting and signs telling users where buses are arriving.

Council President Kathy Connell said added lights are a much-needed improvement.

"That area is used a lot by visitors in the evening. Anything we can do to help that situation up there is wonderful," Connell said.

The city also plans to create a new pathway for pedestrians crossing from the Grand Resort Hotel to Gondola Square.

Weber expects to award a bid on the project next week; construction should begin this fall, with the canopy and light improvements taking place in the spring.

The improvements come more than a year after the city and American Skiing Co., the parent company of the Steamboat Ski Area and Grand Summit Property Resorts, debated how much the Grand owed in construction costs. Grand Summit officials said the city's original request for $600,000 was too high. Later, they agreed to pay half of that amount.

Grand Summit Property Resorts will pay $241,000 for improvements to Mount Werner Circle and put $59,000 toward remodeling the Gondola Transit Center.

The city will pay $127,000 for Mount Werner Circle improvements.

Because of the disagreement over the division of cost, the city had to change its original plans. The city decided not to put in sidewalks bordering the Mount Werner Circle across the street from the Grand or landscaping on the medians in \between lanes.

Hughes said that an unexpected grant coming from the Federal Transportation Administration would allow the city to do more improvements to the transit center than expected.

"This is not the Cadillac version, but we were able to come up with resources we didn't know of," Hughes said. "What is coming out of this plan is going to make it look very different than the way it looks now."

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