Transit study rolling ahead

Project would explore feasibility of South Routt service

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— Routt County has entered into a contract with the Colorado Department of Transportation to develop a service needs and feasibility study for potential transit service between Steamboat Springs and South Routt.

The study is scheduled for completion this summer.

The study will look at the cost-effectiveness and feasibility of such a transit system, as well as provide practical data, such as optimum stops and timetables, and suggested locations for possible park-and-ride facilities, Routt County Commissioner Diane Mitsch Bush said.

The Routt County Board of Commissioners approved the contract Tuesday, laying out a shared funding agreement for the study. The county will provide $5,000, half in cash and the remainder as in-kind services, and CDOT will contribute $20,000. CDOT's portion of the funding stems from the Federal Transit Authority's 5311 program, which provides grant funding for transit services in rural areas.

The results of the feasibility and cost-effectiveness study are needed by July so the county can apply for grants from the next federal 5311 funding cycle, which could help establish the transit service, Mitsch Bush said.

"I'm hoping that the study will show that this is feasible, cost-effective and will meet people's needs," Mitsch Bush said.

After CDOT approves the contract, Colorado Springs-based LSC Transportation Consultants will be contracted to design and carry out the study, Mitsch Bush said.

Mitsch Bush, who is also a member of the Northwest Colorado Transportation Planning Region and the Statewide Transportation Advisory Committee, is also putting together a working group to oversee the process. The working group will be made up of representatives from government bodies in Yampa and Oak Creek and the Stagecoach Property Owners Association, as well as individuals who have expressed interest, Mitsch Bush said.

County officials gauged interest in a South Routt commuter transit system with a survey last summer. That effort garnered an impressive level of interest among residents, with positive feedback from about 70 percent of respondents, County Manager Tom Sullivan said.

The biggest concern among respondents was the timing of transit services, Sullivan said.

Interest in establishing the new service is not just restricted to South Routt residents - businesses in Steamboat Springs also are pushing for such a system because many of their employees commute from the southern part of the county, Mitsch Bush said.

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