City officials are preparing to beautify one of downtown Steamboat Springs' often overlooked assets.
The city is advertising for bids from contractors to bury utility lines along a five-block stretch of alley between Lincoln Avenue and Yampa Street. It's a downtown improvement project that various city councils have talked about for more than seven years.
Anne Small, the city's purchasing and contracts specialist, said the catalyst for the project is several imminent urban redevelopment projects that would straddle the alley.
"The beauty of it is that all of those utility poles and all of that ugly overhead stuff is going to come down," Small said.
The project, which could begin as soon as June 1, proposes burying electric, telephone and cable TV lines between Fifth and 10th streets. Although the utility companies are being consulted, it is the city's project. It will be funded by the 1 percent franchise fee the city collects on consumer bills paid to Yam--pa Valley Electric Association, Small said.
Larry Ball, a field representative working on the project for YVEA, said he's confident that two years of meetings about the project have addressed the major issues associated with it.
"It will be a complicated process, but it will definitely aesthetically improve the downtown," Ball said.
Pending projects on the alley, including Alpenglow, Howelsen Place and Riverwalk, will bear the cost of burying utility boxes on their properties, Small said.
The construction documents are very specific about how much of the alley the contractor can disrupt at a given time, Small said. There is a plan in place to ensure vehicular access. It still will be possible to make deliveries to the rear of businesses off the alley. Small also will be in frequent contact with businesses so they know what to expect.
Small said city officials want to know what the worst times to disrupt operations would be. "We realize there are restaurants down there with refrigerators," she said
Ball said the new underground power lines will be installed and tested before they are energized and the overhead lines abandoned.
Bids on the project will be opened May 8. Small said there's a chance that if the contractor cannot begin work by the first week in June, the project would not begin until after the July 4 holiday.
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