Our View: Refining the future of Yampa Street


Editorial Board, May 11 through Sept. 21, 2011

  • Scott Stanford, general manager
  • Brent Boyer, editor
  • Tom Ross, reporter
  • Laura Schmidt, community representative
  • Jim Miller, community representative

Contact the editorial board at 970-871-4221 or editor@SteamboatToday.com. Would you like to be a member of the board? Fill out a letter of interest now.

— The challenge facing Yampa Street in downtown Steamboat Springs is actually good news — it means the vision of a vibrant entertainment district is coming to fruition. There are challenges, of course, but it’s encouraging to see the city taking steps toward eventual infrastructure improvements and to hear the leader of a downtown business group rallying the community to refine its vision for the area.

It’s been fascinating to watch the Yampa Street transformation. What was once a largely ignored riverside avenue — particularly compared with its big sister, Lincoln Avenue — has become a corridor buoyed by newer restaurants, bars and retail spaces. The construction in recent years of new residential and multiuse buildings has helped add to the traffic — both pedestrian and vehicular — that often has Yampa Street swarming with cyclists, pedestrians and cars on weekends.

Proximity to the Yampa River, the Yampa River Core Trail, Howelsen Hill and the Brent Romick Rodeo Arena also has helped fuel Yampa Street’s revival. But its surge in popularity shines a spotlight on its most glaring issues, including the presence of a Steamboat Springs Fire Rescue station, the Routt County Search and Rescue barn and Yampa Valley Electric Association’s massive building and truck bay, a lack of southside sidewalks and curbs, confusing parallel-parking areas and an absence of bike lanes.

Sidewalks, curbs, parking and bike lanes for Yampa Street are addressed in the city’s $439,000 downtown streetscapes plan put together by Britina Design Group in May 2007. That same plan was used in the design of the recent Lincoln Avenue makeover.

Funding those improvements is another story. Although Public Works Director Philo Shelton said the city would stripe bike lanes on Yampa Street within the next couple of weeks, he acknowledged that major infrastructure work is years away.

Tracy Barnett, manager of Mainstreet Steamboat Springs, told the Steamboat Springs City Council last week that planning for the redevelopment of Yampa Street should begin in earnest. We agree with her that now is an appropriate time for the community to refine its vision for Yampa Street and to identify potential funding sources and a project timeline. Hammering out the details now will bring us one step closer to achieving a vision that already is bearing fruit one block south of Lincoln Avenue.


Zac Brennan 5 years, 9 months ago

How ridiculous 'Your View' is of the "glaring issues" of the location of the Police/Fire, Search&Rescue, and YVEA buildings is in relation to your DisneyLandesque vision of downtown Steamboat Springs!!!?? Traffic is already virtually impossible with the limited streets we have to travel. Perhaps we could have the railroad move it's tracks out of town. Or, I know!! Lets divert the Yampa river around Emerald Mt. so more bars and restaurants can be built! Thats the ticket! Also, just where are the bike lanes and sidewalks on the Pilot newspaper property on the west side of town? Just what are you guys smoking at the Pilot these days??


Brian Smith 5 years, 9 months ago

An entertainment district with a nighttime db level of 60 which is less than 2 people talking is going to make for quite a dull entertainment district. I walked around Yampa the other night on a Tuesday evening with a db meter (I am not a trained professional, but its not rocket science) and every entertainment spot we have on or near Yampa was in violation ranging from 65-70db. Sweetwater, Sunpies, Boathouse and Ghost Ranch, all above 65, and Sunpies was not even open for business. Even the prestigious Howelsen Place read above 65db's. Of course according to Mark Skully at the last council meeting, comparing Steamboat to Washington DC, Seattle and LoDo was a much better comparison than it was to Breckenridge a thriving ski town, which has a 70db limit. Right...


Fred Duckels 5 years, 9 months ago

This street seems to be catching fire, what contrasts it with Lincoln? Much less traffic. The main street mantra seems to be that more is better where traffic is concerned and I have always disagreed with this assessment. In better economic times we will have the commmercial traffic to completely ruin the setting. Where am I going wrong other than blindly following a common sense approach?


Jeremy Johnston 5 years, 9 months ago

Just let it be. It's quirky nature is most of it's charm.


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