Steamboat Springs A project to extend Routt County Road 37 in Hayden, creating another access to U.S. Highway 40, has been in the works for nearly three years, and there's still no end in sight for the project that has left a portion of the road in an unfinished and abysmal condition.
The road enters Hayden from the south and curves west around the north side of the local cemetery before merging with Shelton Lane. South of the cemetery, on a stretch that runs along developments such as the Valley View Business Park and Dry Creek Village subdivision, construction on the road began, then was suspended, leaving it a rough and rocky thoroughfare, jolting to even slow-moving vehicles.
Hayden Town Manager Russ Martin said the project, which should take only a month to complete, has hit a number of snags that have left the town helplessly caught between the demands of a Midwest coal company and the Colorado Department of Transportation, all the while fielding complaints and concerns of local residents and developers.
In 2005, the town applied for and received an energy impact grant of more than $400,000 to develop another access to U.S. Highway 40 and accommodate anticipated growth south of town. Energy impact grants are awarded by the state to municipalities affected by energy and mineral industries.
Developers to the south of town pitched in most of the remaining cost for the $800,000 project, seeing the extension as vital to their projects. Costs to the town for the project were held to less than $100,000.
The town then entered negotiations with St. Louis-based Peabody Energy, which owns the land the road would traverse. Peabody submitted their preference for how the road should connect to the highway, and the town sought a bid in spring 2006. That bid came back higher than the amount budgeted. The town re-bid in fall 2006 and got an estimate that was still more than budgeted, but to a lesser extent.
"We got a great bid from Precision (Excavating of Hayden) that we thought we could work to afford," Martin said.
The town asked Peabody to make up the difference in cost for the project, but the company refused. The town then began to explore a cheaper, more direct route for the road that would run along an existing rail line. Martin said an estimate for that option came in under budget. The town packaged that plan with a proposal to buy land from Peabody for a new police station and presented it to the company.
Anticipating approval from Peabody and CDOT, the town started construction on an existing portion of the road in April. But Peabody countered in May with a request to move the road a few hundred feet away from the rail line and closer to town to allow for possible rail expansions in the future. There is some question about whether that plan will be acceptable to CDOT. The construction was suspended, leaving the road in its current condition.
"At the end of the day, that's my fault," said Martin, who receives calls every week asking about the road's condition. "They get more frustrated, and I can't blame them."
The completion question
The only thing missing now to complete the road is approval from CDOT. Martin said he requested approval about a month ago and has yet to hear back.
Martin said, once begun, the project should take only about a month, but he couldn't say whether the project would be completed even by the end of this year. Jim Woods, developer of the Dry Creek Village subdivision, said completion of the road is very important to the marketing of his lots.
"We need to deliver a good, safe passage for our owners," Woods said.
The current access has two sharp curves in it. While the road currently is lightly traveled, developments such as Woods' will add hundreds of homes primarily serviced by Routt County Road 37.
"You're going to see traffic on 37, no doubt," Woods said.
Vertical construction in the subdivision won't begin until 2008, and Woods said from a construction perspective, the road is not a hassle in its current condition. It could, however, put off potential buyers.
"From our perspective, it's just a marketing concern," Woods said.
Jon Peddie, one of the developers of the Valley View Business Park, said completion of the road would be very important to a Coca-Cola warehouse and distribution center that broke ground in the park last month.
"I know it would certainly be a problem for them if it wasn't completed," Peddie said. "We're hoping the city will be able to complete it by this fall."