Slate Creek would connect north, west Routt

Councilwoman: Future road won't be a 'superhighway'

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— If Routt County residents ever get the chance to cruise the Slate Creek Connector, it won't be the shortcut between Clark and Hayden that some have envisioned. Set your cruise control to 25 miles per hour instead of 45.

The future road linking U.S. Highway 40 from a point west of town to Routt County Road 129 north of Steamboat Springs Airport isn't intended to whisk cars from the west end of the county to the north. Instead, it's meant to reduce traffic congestion by siphoning off motorists destined for a new commercial center in the proposed Steamboat 700 development.

"The Slate Creek connector could alleviate traffic at the intersection of U.S. 40 and (Routt County Road) 129," Public Works Engineer Laura Anderson told a joint meeting of the Steamboat Springs City Council and the Routt County Board of Commissioners on Monday night. "If they put in a grocery store, that could be a draw from the north" end of the county.

"It's not meant to be a bypass," Steamboat Springs Public Works Director Philo Shelton agreed. "It's a route into that commercial center."

Speed limit debated

The City Council voted unanimously to keep the Slate Creek Connector in its planning for Steamboat 700 where 2,000 residential units someday could be developed. And council members also agreed that Steamboat 700 developers wouldn't have to share the cost of the portions of the road outside their boundaries if owners of neighboring property propose their own developments.

Final alignments of the full length of the road have not been drawn. But for motorists on U.S. 40 it would begin at a point on the north side of the highway roughly opposite Sleepy Bear mobile home park. It would continue north through Steamboat 700 and exit the development at a point near the Walter Scott property west of the airport runway, possibly continuing through one or two other parcels of private property until reaching its other terminus on C.R. 129.

Councilwoman Meg Bentley lent her support to a slower, gentler Slate Creek Connector.

"It can work at 25 miles per hour," Bentley said. "I think we'll all get used to it not being a superhighway."

Although they did not cast votes on the issue, all three county commissioners were active participants in the discussion.

Commission Chairman Doug Monger said he lost enthusiasm for the road when he read a traffic study suggesting Slate Creek would likely have a 25 mph speed limit.

At that rate of travel, he said, it won't serve the needs of people seeking to avoid the congestion at the stoplight at U.S. 40 and C.R. 129 where traffic bogs down on its way into the city.

"My people from the county aren't going to drive through there," Monger said. "It doesn't serve us at all. Pretty soon we've taken all the functionality out of the road for the county's interest."

700's obligation

Councilman Walter Magill agreed with Monger and made the case that the road should not run through the heart of Steamboat 700's residential neighborhoods at all. He advocated a realignment of C.R. 42 that would allow the road to bypass Steamboat 700.

"It's a rural connector," Magill said. "It should go through rural land."

However, Steamboat Springs Planning Services Manager John Eastman said difficult terrain on the most likely routes bypassing the new development would make the road prohibitively expensive.

City staff placed the question of the Slate Creek Connector on the meeting agenda to get direction about how to proceed in annexation discussions with Steamboat 700 Project Manager Danny Mulcahy.

Mulcahy reminded council and the commissioners that he and his partners had always acknowledged the need to build the portion of Slate Creek internal to their development. He added that it's his position that the road, as well as other facets of his development, would increase the value of surrounding developable land. He strongly suggested those landowners should have to pay a full pro-rate share of the cost of completing the road, should they come forward with plans to develop.

Mulcahy said his development team was proposing to pay 18 percent of the cost of the road outside their boundaries in the event that local governments decide they couldn't wait to complete the road and undertook it themselves.

"I think we've got a great offer on the table, and that's what we should move forward with," Quinn said.

Quinn moved to affirm plans to keep the Slate Creek Connector in play during Steamboat 700 annexation discussions. Further, he moved that the developers not be required to pay for more than the road within their boundaries, unless local government advances the timetable. City Council agreed.

Comments

Steve Lewis 5 years, 3 months ago

I understand Doug Monger's vision of this road as a "bypass" of Steamboat for county folks.

But if we're talking traffic, far more critical is the traffic a successful commercial center out there can siphon away from downtown. Bypassing that commercial center would have been mistake, because the viability of that comercial center is critical.

They got this one right, and Jon Quinn deserves credit for taking the council focus back to what we had already decided we were trying to do with this road. Thanks Jon.

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greenwash 5 years, 3 months ago

It should be 45 just like 129....nobody abides by speed limit on 129 anyway, why would slate creek connector be any different?

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housepoor 5 years, 3 months ago

the amount of people that would actually use this road seems pretty small? I guess if you lived in n routt and worked at the mine it would be nice but how mant people can that be? Just not seeing the need now or in the future.

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aichempty 5 years, 3 months ago

I'll using that road to drive to Hayden (and maybe Craig) for groceries.

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greenwash 5 years, 3 months ago

where 44 and 129 merge just a little NW of runway and it will exit right in front of Sleepy Bear MHP.

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trump_suit 5 years, 3 months ago

If you are going from N. Routt to Hayden, don't you use 44? I know its gravel but it cuts out the entire 129/40 intersection. It seems to me that if they want a connector they would just pave that existing road.

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stillinsteamboat 5 years, 3 months ago

Why would you use 42-44 ? It would add 20 minutes to your drive.

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housepoor 5 years, 3 months ago

just don't see the need? build it because it's in the PLAN????

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jk 5 years, 3 months ago

I am sure a Construction Co. that would love the work would say it is necessary. Or a developer who is trying to funnel slow moving traffic past their large commercial development maybe?? Other than that it seems like there is no focus on helping with the traffic conjestion problem?? Just an anonymous naysayer raising a few observasions about the 700 Club

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