A group studying improvements to U.S. Highway 40 will update Steamboat Springs City Council members about the idea of widening the road to four lanes from downtown to Steamboat II at tonight's City Council meeting.

Photo by John F. Russell

A group studying improvements to U.S. Highway 40 will update Steamboat Springs City Council members about the idea of widening the road to four lanes from downtown to Steamboat II at tonight's City Council meeting.

Council to consider 4-lane US 40

Group to present highway improvement study to City Council today


If you go

What: Steamboat Springs City Council meeting

When: 4 p.m. today

Where: Centennial Hall, 124 10th St.

Call: City offices at 879-2060 for more information; call 871-7070 to listen live to City Council meetings


- 4 p.m. Executive session to discuss projects seeking annexation into city limits

- 4:45 p.m. Resolution to approve a contract extension with Wenk Associates to produce design and construction documents for projects at the base of Steamboat Ski Area

- 5 p.m. Update on a National Environmental Protection Act study of U.S. Highway 40 in west Steamboat; update on a water and wastewater rate study master plan; discussion of city affordable housing policies; discussion of possible changes to the Home Rule Charter

- 7 p.m. Public comment

On the 'Net

For more information about the U.S. Highway 40 NEPA study, visit www.us40west.com

— A group studying improvements to U.S. Highway 40 in west Steamboat Springs is honing in on a proposal that would widen the road to four lanes from downtown to Steamboat II.

Consultants also are reviewing 10-foot separated sidewalks along U.S. 40, double left-hand turn lanes at the intersection of Elk River Road and U.S. 40, and a pedestrian overpass or underpass at the same intersection. Other potential improvements include double left turn lanes for traffic turning onto 13th Street from Lincoln Avenue and westward extensions of Steamboat Springs Transit bus lines.

Any improvements would be paid for by the city, Routt County and developers - including Steamboat 700 and 360 Village, two large projects seeking annexation into city limits.

"It would be done on a cost-sharing basis, and that's still being developed," City Manager Jon Roberts said Monday. "Once you determine the preferred improvements, you have an estimated cost and then the estimated cost gets proportioned out. And that proportionate share has not yet been determined."

Today, the Routt County Board of Commissioners will consider two versions of a letter they plan to send to Steamboat 700 concerning the dedication of county building-use tax collections generated within the development to the U.S. 40 improvements. City Council President Loui Antonucci said the city has not yet determined how much the city will contribute or where the funds will come from.

"We know we're going to have to participate," he said, "but we haven't committed to anything yet."

The study is addressing alternatives to meet transportation needs while also examining the effects of the alternatives on environmental resources. Because U.S. 40 is part of the federal highway system, the study is required under the National Environmental Protection Act. An update on the NEPA study will be presented to the Steamboat Springs City Council today.

"This isn't the final acceptance," Roberts said, "but this is to introduce the items that are being : considered."

Antonucci said he doesn't expect council members to give specific direction on what the highway should look like because they are not traffic experts, but he did say council might take options off the table if it is felt that certain improvements don't match Steamboat's character.

The study group already has considered and rejected proposals including expanding U.S. 40 to six lanes, creating reversible high-occupancy toll lanes, a roundabout at U.S. 40 and Elk River Road and grade-separated intersections, also known as flyovers.

In other City Council action today:

- Council members will receive an update on a water and wastewater rate master plan being conducted by the city. The master plan is expected to propose the creation of a new stormwater utility fund that could be funded by developers and a service charge to all residents. Roberts said stormwater system improvements currently are paid for out of the city's general fund. Antonucci said he's not crazy about the idea.

"They say they want to run that thing as an enterprise fund. OK, but who pays into that fund?" he said. "I get a little concerned because : one of our goals is that Steamboat stays affordable for local people to live here. If we have to find more ways to tax people, that kind of goes against the goal."

- Council will debate potential changes to its affordable housing ordinance. The changes would allow developers to make a payment to the city in lieu of building actual affordable units. Under the city's existing inclusionary zoning policy, paying a fee in lieu is allowed only at base area projects and for fractional units. Council also will consider allowing developers to propose a voluntary real estate transfer tax on first and subsequent sales of units.

Antonucci said he supports flexibility and giving developers a variety of options for satisfying affordable housing requirements.

"I think it has to be a multi-pronged approach for developers," he said. "I don't know if you can make an ordinance that withstands the ups and downs in the economy."

However, a city staff report states that city staff supports changes to inclusionary zoning to confront the current economic situation "with the hope that within a reasonable period of time, circumstances will permit a return to the original intent of the" ordinance.


steamboatsprings 7 years, 11 months ago

It is amazing how off track the west of Steamboat plan has gotten. That someone would even consider six lanes, flyovers etc is crazy. Who could even conceive of paying for that much less is fitting in Steamboat? Yes they ruled it out but it amazing things like that were on the table to start with.

Any hope for more market rate affordable housing in Steamboat 700 has become pretty dim with the level of infrastructure required to make things work out there. They propose tiny lots that will need to sell for $300-400k making houses cost north of $800K. How can the prject possibly pay if you have to build that infrastructure upfront and could only hope to sell attractively priced homes homes at the rate of 100 per year thus taking about 20 years. The interest costs will be brutal and investment returns hard to find even or the optimistic. I am concerned that it will likely take a short sale of this project to have a chance for any sense of viability.


bellyup 7 years, 11 months ago

There is no need for four lanes out to Steamboat II. Where would you put them anyway?

What we need is the speed limit lowered to 40MPH between town and Steamboat II. It will be safer to cross the highway, there will be fewer rollovers, and fewer broken windshields from gravel loads shifting in the tight turn between CR 42 and M&M.

Extending the bus service farther west is a great idea. The marginal cost of coming out two more miles can't be much.

How about extending the bike path? Six months or more a year, my slow car would never be in anybody's way!


Angie Robinson 7 years, 11 months ago

I would really love to see 4 lanes atleast to Hayden. I think that would really help traffic flow better. People who want to drive slower can do so, without a line of cars eager to pass. Winter is especially difficult to pass, and creates a dangerous situation for everyone commuting. I have been in some crazy scary situations on Hwy 40, all involving a speeding lunatic. I wonder how many accidents could be avoided by having 4 lanes and how many speeding lunatics could actually get caught by the troopers - instead of caught behind traffic.


beentheredonethat 7 years, 11 months ago

extending the bike path into heritage park, steamboat II and silverspur should happen sooner rather than later to promote biking to work and leaving the car parked in the garage.


callguinness 7 years, 11 months ago

Bellyup I would say there is possibly a need for four lanes right now. However there will for sure be a need for four lanes if 700 and 360 get approved. Granted it will be 10 years before the need really shows, but if they wait 10 years to start the project, we will all sit here and complain they should have seen this coming. Point is, don't be too hard on them for looking to the future, when they have somebody who is willing to help them cover the cost of building the extra lanes.

So far as where to put the lanes, well that is a little more tricky, but I assume you have ventured out of the valley before. So I assume you have seen some of the amazing ways they will move dirt to make a road fit, if you pay for it, it can be built.


trump_suit 7 years, 11 months ago

Personally, I think that lowering the speed limit on this stretch is one of the worst ideas ever floated for this road.

I strongly agree that extending the bike trail and bus services is necessary ASAP.

Sooner or later the little town of Steamboat is going to have to grow up and address the traffic problems that are building. However, any of you that have lived in a large urban area know that our little problem is truly that.

We do have some small concerns that need to be addressed, but those of you complaining so profusely about downtown parking and traffic need to spend a week or two elsewhere to truly appreciate how well we have it here. A couple of small changes at critical intersections like 40/129, and the transit center would go a long way toward helping the traffic move smoothly.

My suggestions would include a high speed traffic circle for both intersections that keep the traffic on 40 moving without interruption, but allow for opportunities to merge. These traffic circles also allow for safer pedestrian movement.

I know that there are haters out there, so to those of you that despise traffic circles, you should look at some of the traffic studies done in other mountain communities and indeed across the county. Those studies show a large increase in the number of cars per hour allowed thru. If you combine that with an additional lane, Steamboat's traffic issues are largely resolved.


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