Good For Steamboat Committee: Finally! Real solutions

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We can all agree that U.S. Highway 40 traffic congestion west of downtown has been an issue for many years. But almost nothing has been done about it.

This annexation is the beginning of the solution to U.S. 40 challenges. By locating services such as a grocery store, parks, office space and retail, and providing transit, bike lanes and core trail connection, as well as requiring new development to contribute to funding U.S. 40 improvements, Steamboat 700 is doing more to solve the U.S. 40 challenges than any previous efforts in the past 20 years.

More than 50 percent of our workers today must find housing in Hayden, Oak Creek, Stagecoach and Craig, many in car-dependent developments that are out of reach of transit.

Our traffic issues will become only more severe and costly for citizens to address if we do not implement the West of Steamboat Springs Area Plan and annex Steamboat 700.

It’s time to prepare for growth, concentrate it in west Steamboat and invest in transportation solutions that reduce regional traffic, preserve our environment and strengthen our economy.

Funding for existing problems

The annexation agreement prohibits any Steamboat 700 development until existing U.S. 40 traffic problems are fixed and the necessary highway improvements for each phase of Steamboat 700 are in place.

The plan requires a new U.S. 40-Elk River Road intersection, fully funded by Steamboat 700. There are bicycle and pedestrian linkages into Old Town on a new Core Trail extension that will connect not only Steamboat 700, but also Steamboat II, Silver Spur and Heritage Park.

Without a partner like Steamboat 700, existing and future challenges will have to be funded by existing residents because budgets at the state and federal level for highway projects are severely underfunded, and neither the city nor the county have money to deal with U.S. 40.

So the annexation brings the community real dollars for U.S. 40 right away — and a major competitive advantage statewide: local matching funds for improvements paid by Steamboat 700.

No development without improvements

The city has extraordinary control in the 20- to 30-year implementation of this transportation plan. The Annexation Agreement requires U.S. 40 improvements to be constructed, or have the financing in place, before the city can issue any approvals for development at Steamboat 700.

That’s right — the rate of growth in West Steamboat is tied to required improvements on U.S. 40. No improvements, no development at Steamboat 700. This puts the community in the driver’s seat, controls growth and protects taxpayers. Read for yourself at www.good4steamboat.com.

The 13th Street intersection issue is a legitimate concern, and Steamboat 700 is required to provide funding for the eventual solution. However, to suggest that Steamboat 700’s projected vehicle trips will “disappear” from U.S. 40 if the annexation is overturned is flat-out wrong. Those cars still will be on U.S. 40 as our workers increasingly commute from Hayden, Oak Creek, Stagecoach and Craig in search of adequate housing and services, and there will be no funding from those outlying areas to fix traffic problems. That’s not a solution.

‘Commuter culture’

Ultimately, this is a social issue for Steamboat because deferring solutions on transportation issues forever, while long commutes increase, is a major risk to the fabric of our community.

The authors of the “Vision 2020” plan noted back in 1994, “Commuter culture means more traffic problems and feeds back into the loss of small-town friendliness.”

Is it better for the backbone of our community and our economy — the people who work here — to be relegated to long commutes on U.S. 40 every day? And not just our seasonal work force, but also our teachers, nurses and young professionals?

There have been many other U.S. 40 ideas — timing the traffic signals on Lincoln Avenue; building more transit centers in Craig and Hayden to bus in our workers; re-routing U.S. 40 around Old Town; etc. But these ideas won’t solve our region’s real transportation challenges. To claim they will is more than off-base — it’s foolhardy and irresponsible. That’s the “head-in-sand” approach, and it has failed us for far too long.

Fifteen years ago, our community’s long-term vision for transportation recommended controlled growth that concentrates housing, services and transit options on the west end of town.

Combine that vision with Steamboat 700’s multi-million dollar financial commitments for U.S. 40 — at zero cost to existing city taxpayers — and we can move forward on solving our existing and future transportation challenges. And that’s good for Steamboat.

Comments

Solo 4 years, 2 months ago

Steamboat 700 LLC will initially be responsible for 100% of the cost of Highway 40 improvements at Steamboat West Boulevard, the main entrance to SB 700. This is typically the percentage that CDOT requires when accessing a State Highway. This was demonstrated at Catamount Ranch, Lake Catamount and Alpine Mountain Ranch. For the rest of the Highway 40 improvements listed in Exhibit C, Tables 2&3 or in Exhibit F of the SB 700 Annexation Agreement, the percentage of financial responsibility for Steamboat 700 LLC will be from 25 to 77%. The balance is to be paid for by “other sources” such as CDOT, the Federal Highway Administration or future west Steamboat annexations. It would be difficult to believe that any of these “other” funding sources are dependable. The title to Table 2 is “City Capital Projects”. The title to Table 3 is “Conditional City Capital Projects”.

In Exhibit C, referencing Table 2 to the SB 700 share of expenses: “In addition to showing direct funding from District bond issues, the Financial Plan assumes the Districts will reimburse the Developer for Developer advances to fund a portion of these costs.”

In Exhibit C, referencing Table 3: “These are projects, the funding and construction of which is conditional upon funds being contributed by the City or the County (in addition to the District/Developer funding), and other conditions set forth in the Annexation Agreement for the project. The Financial Plan does not show funding for these costs; however, to the extent growth projected in the Financial Plan exceeds current projection, the Consolidated Service Plan authorizes the Districts to fund such costs.”

Considering the above information, to believe that Steamboat 700 LLC will, at the end of the day, be responsible for these improvements “at zero cost to the existing city taxpayers” is certainly challenging.

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freerider 4 years, 2 months ago

This is pure non-sense ....how is the 700 farce going to create more parking downtown for another 5 thousand cars ....??? answer hahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha they will be laughing all the way to the bank

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