Let's Vote Committee: There is no traffic solution

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Annexing Steamboat 700 will produce two negative consequences. Traffic congestion will get much worse, increasing downtown drive times, tying up traffic at strategic points and denigrating our quality of life. Additionally, the uncertain funding of capital improvements for transportation infrastructure required by the annexation will burden the city, county and all of us. First, let’s look at this Annexation Agreement and potential costs to the city.

This Annexation Agreement speaks to the transportation plan and required improvements, where it addresses U.S. Highway 40 NEPA improvements requiring a “U.S. Highway 40 Categorical Exclusion study.” This study has not been completed. Without it, how can Steamboat 700, the city and the Colorado Department of Transportation agree on compliance before the public vote?

Schedule F also pertains to traffic and transportation and the city, Steamboat 700, CDOT and Federal Highway Administration sharing the costs of these road infrastructures triggered by amounts of built units.

However, CDOT and FHWA are underfunded and unable to contribute to the city’s share of highway infrastructure costs as described in this Annexation Agreement. A CDOT revenue source — the gas tax — is shrinking because of greater fuel efficiency. Those agencies will not have sufficient funding to maintain our roadway system, much less contribute to the city’s share, ranging from 23 to 70 percent, of the improvement costs for each of 14 multi-million dollar projects of unknown costs described in Annexation Agreement Schedule F.

If Steamboat 700 progresses, it is supposed to pay the remaining balance of these improvements. More significant for city residents, the city and the county will be liable for $35,834,275 for traffic/transportation infrastructure “improvements” ($4,780,275 from Exhibit C, Table 2; $20,179,000 from Exhibit C, Table 3; and $10,875,000 from Exhibit C, Table 3).

Where will the city get these funds? Why did the city enter into this Annexation Agreement without definitive costs determined by independent consultants? Remember, these improvements are only caused by this Annexation Agreement. Without Steamboat 700, these costs are unnecessary.

Everyone deals with traffic congestion. Steamboat 700 will increase our population by nearly 5,000 residents. Steamboat 700 households will make 17,600 to 21,900 more daily trips to downtown and the mountain, increasing traffic congestion by 50 percent. Contrary to Steamboat 700’s arguments, many trips per day from Steamboat 700 are not comparable to single trips per day to commute from Craig and Hayden.

The city’s current situation gives us a glimpse of what we can see if Steamboat 700 is built. Technically, the U.S. 40/Elk River Road intersection is at a point of “failure.” Peak traffic flow during the morning commute routinely causes 20-minute delays for eastbound traffic. Traffic on C.R. 129 also is delayed, especially for those wishing to turn left. In short, this is an undersized intersection. While Steamboat 700 will pay for 77 percent of the upgrade of the C.R. 129/U.S. 40 intersection, the traffic will flow on an upgraded U.S. 40 to 13th Street where the backup will then occur.

What will happen with 45,000 vehicles per day at 13th Street and at peak hours? Admittedly, traffic will continue to increase with U.S. 40 in any event. However, the Steamboat 700 project will accelerate the day when we will be looking at 30- to 40-minute delays during peak-hour travel. Steamboat 700’s commercial area will duplicate the commercial area on the city’s east side creating more traffic through downtown. NEPA calculations did not account for this.

According to Schedule F, Steamboat 700 will pay 25 percent of a “preferred solution” to the looming 13th Street bottleneck if a solution is ever determined. The solution is a city dilemma with an indeterminate price tag. The price could exceed $200 million, who knows. For three decades, the city has commissioned studies and developed 17 full and partial solutions, each with a significant downside. To date, the city has not shown the political will to find a solution.

It is entirely possible we may never select a “preferred solution” for moving the increased traffic load within town, including parking, and through town. If we kick this can down the street, our quality of life will diminish.

Proponents of Steamboat 700 argue that increased public transportation will solve this problem. That argument makes no sense. The two buses Steamboat 700 pays for will not get through the bottleneck. Without a solution, it is valid to delay annexation. Send a message to the City Council — develop a solution before undertaking any annexation. Vote no on annexing Steamboat 700.

Comments

blue_spruce 4 years, 10 months ago

"...the uncertain funding of capital improvements for transportation infrastructure required by the annexation will burden the city..."

KEY point!

"...Steamboat 700 will increase our population by nearly 5,000 residents..."

REALLY? last time I checked, there were no new jobs....how does this work? actually, there are more and more out of work every day!! They [SB700] are basing their projections on outdated market data. Take a look around....you think that they can sell their lots anytime soon? Really?!? who's buying lots....anyone.....anyone.....

look at the numbers....these guys are screwed.....the fact that they so aggressively want to move forward with the project at this point in time only shows their weakness. get ready for a bankruptcy with steamboat 700. and get ready to PAY UP steamboat residents!!! get your checkbooks out!!!

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bigfatdog 4 years, 10 months ago

why is there so much fear in this community? wakeup..the people are going to come over the next 20+ years. it is going to happen and no annexation translates to more non masterplanned developments in our bedroom communitities and significantly less capital improvements in west Steamboat. the annexation is the first step and no capital will translate to no developments NOW but it is a detailed plan for the future. a much needed master plan for that area of town. or we will continue as status quo... housing developments next to a hotel/commercial district..a planned low income development next to a 7-eleven and a growing industrial congested area...a hideous colored mixed use development on the yampa river...poor planning and more congestion. This annexation is right for Steamboat NOW!!!!

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cindy constantine 4 years, 10 months ago

BFD At some point people will be moving to the Yampa Valley, but we dont know when and we dont know how many more vacant homes will be available over the next several years as there continues to be an OUT migration. Annexations follow job and economic growth none of which are apparent now or in the forseeable future. As stated before, the land and the developer are not going anywhere. They need the annexation because they have NO WATER and I dont believe they can buy it from Steamboat II. As a taxpayer I do not want to take the risk of failure and bail out a private enterprise. A silent majority of the residents feel the same way and will express their sentiments at the voting booth!! If the developer has the long term financial wherewithall---SHOW ME THE MONEY

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aichempty 4 years, 10 months ago

There has been no appreciable population growth in the County in the past twenty years, and unless people bring money with them to spend locally, there won't be anybody moving in. The jobs are not here to support the growth.

SB700 was always going to be a resort development in the long run. The difference between SB700 and Catamount, Stagecoach and other nearby areas is that SB700 came in with a plan to obtain water and waste services from the City. That's the key.

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Steve Lewis 4 years, 10 months ago

Unfortunately the other column, pro-700, has a few questionable claims: -"The annexation agreement (AA) prohibits any Steamboat 700 development until existing U.S. 40 traffic problems are fixed." [Not true. This AA language does not include the bottleneck.]

-"The 13th Street intersection issue is a legitimate concern, and Steamboat 700 is required to provide funding for the eventual solution." [Not accurate. 700 is required to pay 25% of that funding.]

-"There have been many other U.S. 40 ideas... 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." [The study of bypass alternatives clearly stated we cannot pave our way out of the bottleneck problem. 700 does not overcome this reality.]

-"Combine that vision with Steamboat 700’s multi-million dollar financial commitments for U.S. 40 — at zero cost to existing city taxpayers." [This is not true for 40 through town and even out west of 13th St its still in doubt.]

I expected better from 700. They should be wary of their reliance on rhetoric and show more respect for the obvious facts. Compared to the column above, 700 lost credibility today.

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best4steamboat 4 years, 10 months ago

I read somewhere that SB700 projects 3.5 persons per unit. Isn't that 7,000 additional people?

Regardless of how long the projected buildout period is and how many amenities are available at the area, traffic through downtown Steamboat and eastward will become unbearable. People will still need to get to the only high school and middle schools for activities as well as to Mt. Werner, Howelsen and many other places.

West Highway 40 and the 13th Street bottleneck are only part of the traffic problem with the size and scope of this development. There ARE other ways for Steamboat to grow without doubling its size in one fell swoop.Doing this will ultimately create massive urban sprawl that will severely detract from our community's small-town character and agricultural/ranching feel.

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blue_spruce 4 years, 10 months ago

"As a taxpayer I do not want to take the risk of failure and bail out a private enterprise"

thank you. i feel the same way, and that is EXACTLY what we are looking at.

sadly, this is a familiar scenario, huh? just let the government pick up the pieces when speculation goes awry....

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Scott Wedel 4 years, 10 months ago

Why would the rejection of SB 700 be the end of master planned developments? Is the raw land here only temporarily?

Look at all the projects in hiatus (in terms of build-able parcels) around town. Ski Time Square, Barn Village, Rollingstone, Riverwalk and so on. SB 700 is going to sit idle for years until the market returns to something close to 2007 pricing and activity. SB 700 was planned for something closer to a 2007 world than a post Great Recession.

And let's get real, the likelihood that a huge project planned during a boom is going to emerge from a bust without massive changes is ZERO. This area has already seen the effect of failed developments of the 70s in Stagecoach and Steamboat Lake. Both would have been much better off if those lots had not been platted because it created unbuildable lots that required years of accumulating adjacent lots to create buildable lots.

So why are we granting them annexation and vested development rights? So they will be in a stronger negotiating position when they come back and ask for changes?

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Fred Duckels 4 years, 10 months ago

Scott, Steamboat Lake and Stagercoach are from another era and would never be apporoved today. 700 has the location and scrutiny that is not comparable to these former mistakes.

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freerider 4 years, 10 months ago

This article is right on ....The 700 farce will be the biggest mistake this county has ever seen ....the article forgot to mention besides increasing the traffic flow to a no win situation there will be no place to park either ....people are completely delusional the traffic problem doesn't exist...at the meetings the developers completly sidestepped this issue with zero accoutabilty about how to deal with it...that's because there isn't an answer....none of the city council members have a solution ...CDOT says no money for it...EVERYBODY IS CLUELESS...The City Council along with the developers are trying to sell this on affordable housing...hahahahahahahaha and as a planned project....hahahahahaha yeah right ....their planning on ruining the community and making lots of money and fools out of everybody at the same time then leaving us with a huge mess .... VOTE NO ON THE 700 SCAM

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Steve Lewis 4 years, 10 months ago

I stand corrected: I earlier said: "I expected better from 700. They should be wary of their reliance on rhetoric and show more respect for the obvious facts. Compared to the column above, 700 lost credibility today."

LetsVote got some numbers wrong too. Both lost some credibility. I'll ask Danny to avoid future examples of overstating his bonafides amd "gauarantees". I'll ask LetsVote to get its math right and refernce unassailable sources.

And thanks to the Pilot for the article today on the Op-Ed errors.

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