Ridge Road to be paved

City to begin work on last gravel road soon

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City officials have plans this summer to pave the city's last remaining gravel road, but that is all the work they intend to do on Ridge Road.

A steep, winding road off Burgess Creek Road, Ridge Road has spurred complaints from residents for years. The 4,300-foot road accesses more than 25 homes and about 20 undeveloped lots.

Steamboat Springs City Pub-lic Works Director Jim Weber said the first half of the Ridge Road paving project would begin the week of Aug. 8. The contract has been awarded to Connell Resources.

Laying asphalt on the road will allow the city to put in shoulders and blend the road into driveways.

The paving project is being funded by the Colorado Depart-ment of Transportation's Con-gestion Mitigation Air Quality funds. Each year, the city receives about $100,000 from the state to improve air quality by improving roads or doing road maintenance. The city matches a percentage of the funds.

Weber said calculations show that the gravel that makes up Ridge Road produces 129 pounds of dust each day.

The city intends to spend $82,000 to pave the first section of Ridge Road, up to the hairpin turn, this summer. The second half will be paved in 2006 with the money leftover from this paving project and another round of funding from the state.

Two years ago, neighbors came before the Steamboat Springs City Council to petition for improvements to the road. Although the area was annexed into the city in the 1970s, the city did not accept the road because it was below city engineering standards.

At the council meeting in 2003, the council determined that to do all the necessary work -- lessening the grade, widening the road and improving the curves -- would cost $1.3 million. The council advised the homeowners to look into forming an improvement district to help cover the costs.

Since then, Weber said, the city has made improvements such as adding guardrails and agreeing to pave the road.

More expensive improvements, such as reconstructing the road, will not be done, he said.

"Right now, generally speaking, there are other priorities on the (capital improvement plan) that would probably take priority before this work," Weber said.

Because the city has never accepted the road, Weber said, it has received minimum maintenance. The city plows it in the winter and sprays it with sodium and magnesium chloride in the summer to control the dust.

Weber said it is the last gravel road within the city limits, though some gravel alleys remain.

By the beginning of next week, city crews will be prepping the road for paving, Weber said. During the paving, traffic flow will be reduced to one lane.

-- To reach Christine Metz call 871-4229or e-mail cmetz@steamboatpilot.com

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