Cars cruise by the current medians on U.S. HIghway 40 near the southern entrance of Steamboat Springs. Work to improve the medians with landscaping starts Tuesday.

Photo by Scott Franz

Cars cruise by the current medians on U.S. HIghway 40 near the southern entrance of Steamboat Springs. Work to improve the medians with landscaping starts Tuesday.

City to improve highway medians at south entrance of Steamboat Springs

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Editor's note: This story has been changed to reflect Native Excavating has been contracted to do the work.

The city of Steamboat Springs doesn't use any kind words to describe the highway medians that greet motorists on the south end the city.

“In their current state, they are unsightly, unkempt, ugly, and do not do justice to the friendliness, livability, or beauty of our community or to the high quality vacation experiences that tourists expect and enjoy,” city officials wrote in an application that sought lodging tax dollars to upgrade the medians on U.S. Highway 40.

The infrastructure didn't end up winning any lodging tax dollars, but the city now is ready to move ahead with the project to improve them.

Starting Tuesday, crews with Native Excavating will begin landscaping and hard-surfacing the medians that run from JD Hays Way to Pine Grove Road.

A news release from the city advises motorists to drive carefully in the construction zone and expect delays during the span of the project because of lane closures.

The work, which entails adding aspen trees and native shrubs to sections of the median, is expected to be done by early November.

According to a description of the median landscaping project included in the lodging tax application, the work will complete a median improvement project that started in 1996.

The city is partnering with the Urban Redevelopment Authority Advisory Committee to complete the project.

The cost of the project wasn't available Monday.

According to the lodging tax application for the work, the city estimated the overall cost of improving the medians from Walton Creek Road to Pine Grove Road on the highway would be $547,678.

The costs cover such things as traffic control, erosion control, and the stamped concrete.

The project includes a $160,000 budget appropriation from the Steamboat Springs Redevelopment Authority, which oversees improvements to the base of the ski area through tax incremental financing.

Median improvements are one of a few construction projects that are ongoing in the city.

Last week, crews started to replace an old water main that runs along Pine Street from Fifth to Ninth streets.

The project will include rolling, one block closures of Pine, and is slated to be completed in November.

In the coming weeks, the city also plans to start work that will improve the Casey's Pond trail near the intersection of U.S. 40 and Walton Creek Road.

Residents can learn more about construction projects by visiting www.steamboatsprings.net or by following the city on Facebook or Twitter.

To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210 or email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com

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Comments

walt jones 7 months, 2 weeks ago

I could have sworn this came up at a City Council meeting and was not even considered as a project and if I recall Cari H. comment was people aren't goninh to not come to Steamboat if the medians don't look good!

So I wonder how this happened? Funds just appear out of nowhere sometimes in this town.

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Charlie MacArthur 7 months, 2 weeks ago

Native Excavating will be performing the median work, not Duckles . Please adjust your article.

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Scott Franz 7 months, 2 weeks ago

Sorry about that, Charlie. It has been changed online and will be correct in print tomorrow. Thanks for catching my error.

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jerry carlton 7 months, 2 weeks ago

Forget the aspen trees and native shrubs. No water lines to run and colored, stamped concrete would look just fine. Also when a stoned driver hits an aspen tree, there would be no lawsuit and no aspen tree to replace.

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John Fielding 7 months, 2 weeks ago

Sorry Jerry, stamped concrete is not native to the Yampa Valley. Maybe river cobble?

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John Fielding 7 months, 2 weeks ago

There is a law on the books that stipulates what types of plants are permitted in the gateway areas of town, private property or public. Only native species are included. I asked at the ordinance hearing whether the Scandinavian aspen could be used. I prefer it as it has a much longer foliage season than the local variety. I got a look like the question was stupid or something, an answer of probably OK, don't really know. It is a different species, has a reddish cast to the fall leaves, but most people probably wouldn't notice. But technically, it is not native, therefore forbidden.

The design concept presented was to only have plants that could have grown there when the land was still undeveloped, to heighten the impression of the town having just recently been hewn from the wilderness.

It's likely only enforced on new plantings, I have not heard of anyone being ordered to correct their landscaping, but the enforcement actions of the planning and community development department are not publicized. I hope Sunshine auto won't be told to replace their tall brilliantly colored cultivated lupines with the pale and dwarfish native cultivar. But don't try planting any flowering pear or Canadian red cherry, you could face a stiff fine or jail time.,

Of course it will look nice to have the plantings, I do not oppose them per se. But of course cost is always a concern, both initial and maintenance. I'll be interested to see the budget line item that covered the installation.

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Scott Wedel 7 months, 2 weeks ago

We live in a world where it is comparatively easy to spend over $500,000 on landscaping a median that will cost tens of thousands of dollars to maintain.

Priorities are exactly backwards. It is certainly reasonable to suggest the taxpayers would do far more economic development if this money had not been taken by government. It is also plausible to suggest that sort of money could provide a lot of help in childcare assistance for lower income working families and help them stay in the workforce and advance to better jobs.

The one place where is will have the lease economic benefit is to landscape a median so that the pampered elite don't see dirt or gravel when driving on hwy 40 through Steamboat.

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mark hartless 7 months, 2 weeks ago

Scott W. is, of course, exactly right.

Seldom do the alternatives seem to be weighed when finding new (or traditional) ways to waste taxpayer's hard-earned money.

It's bad enough that there seems to never be consideration for how much economic activity taxpayers could have generated had these funds not been forcibly removed from their rightful owners. Making matters even worse is the fact that some of these taxpayers are struggling just to keep their families fed, housed and clothed. How many people might have been able to stay off government assistance altogether had it not been for the unnecessary burden placed on them for surperflous nonsense such as this.

These projects are commendable when financed voluntarily and insidious when financed by compulsion of hard working people who haven't the time or interest in highway beautification.

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rhys jones 7 months, 2 weeks ago

Rarely do I agree with Scott and Mark at the same time, but in this case they are both correct.

This project is a frivolous waste of money which could be applied toward better purposes, and is further proof of a council totally out of touch with the populace.

"city officials wrote" is the closest thing to any assignment for responsibility -- again, council remains nameless and faceless -- and again, this smells the odor of special interests. It stinks.

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Scott Wedel 7 months, 2 weeks ago

And the base area URAAC money would largely otherwise go to our local schools. So we can look at the landscaping and the ongoing maintenance costs and say "well that could have paid for student athletics".

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walt jones 7 months, 2 weeks ago

At least they didn't decide to remove the median and shift the lanes over and provide a huge bike lane!! I would have thrown my hands in the air at this town if that would have happened.

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Dan Kuechenmeister 7 months, 2 weeks ago

I drive in from Stagecoach when I come to Steamboat. I have never noticed the “In their current state, they are unsightly, unkempt, ugly, and do not do justice to the friendliness, livability, or beauty of our community or to the high quality vacation experiences that tourists expect and enjoy,” issue. I have never been approached by visitors telling me how "ugly" those medians are. Why the city council has made this decision is beyond me. Hopefully there will be a couple new faces on the council after the next election and they will exhibit more fiscal prudence. And just out of curiosity what do highway medians have to do with "friendliness" or "livability" or "high quality vacation experiences"?

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Scott Wedel 7 months, 2 weeks ago

Well, our illustrious city council would probably say that you are showing your lack of aesthetic understanding.

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rhys jones 7 months, 2 weeks ago

Pork barrel, misappropriate, lame duck, intended use, diversion of funds, lack of accountability, chicanery -- several cliches come to mind, along with this project...

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john bailey 7 months, 2 weeks ago

well now the cops will have to go the long way around to pull you over when you don't dim your headlights...and remember Dan, ya gotta be pretty.....

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Dan Kuechenmeister 7 months, 2 weeks ago

but remember you can't put lipstick on a pig so not sure what I should do. Pretty is not in my vocabulary. Guess I better keep my headlights dimmed

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Dan Kuechenmeister 7 months, 2 weeks ago

Hey Neil - Are you going to admonish me for making fun of myself (-;

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mark hartless 7 months, 2 weeks ago

You're a "self bully", Dan. That's what you are.

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walt jones 7 months, 1 week ago

So they have been working on this projects for 3 weeks now and that is the slowest progress I have seen for a simple improvement. At that rate it all be Feb. When they finish.

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Charlie MacArthur 7 months, 1 week ago

Walt,

As a matter of correction, Native Excavating has been working on the project for four days last week and 1/2 a day this week. The rain has put the project on hold until the material dries out a bit, no sense in manufacturing mud and we can't pour concrete over soup. I can assure you that the project will be complete far before February. We much prefer to push snow that time of year.

  • Charlie MacArthur Native Excavating, Inc.
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walt jones 7 months, 1 week ago

Charlie - Thanks for clarifying. Just know the flaggers, which are not part of your company as the are out of Grand Junction, have been in town on the project since Aug 21. I understand rain must be a muddy mess to work in but the flip side is rain is much needed. I'm sure Native will be pushing snow in full force soon!

Thanks again.

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rhys jones 7 months, 1 week ago

COLORADO REVISED STATUTES

This document reflects changes current through all laws passed at the First Regular Session of the Sixty-Ninth General Assembly of the State of Colorado (2013)

TITLE 43. TRANSPORTATION
HIGHWAYS AND HIGHWAY SYSTEMS
ARTICLE 2.STATE, COUNTY, AND MUNICIPAL HIGHWAYS
PART 2. COUNTY AND OTHER PUBLIC HIGHWAYS

C.R.S. 43-2-210 (2013) Only residents of county to be given employment

Only those persons who, at the time of employment, are residents of the county in which the project is being carried on shall be given employment insofar as possible. The residence of a person is considered to be that place in which his habitation is fixed and to which, whenever he is absent, he has the intention of returning.

(I wonder if U.S. Highway is a loophole)

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walt jones 7 months, 1 week ago

Very interesting info. You maybe right about a loophole.

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jerry carlton 7 months, 1 week ago

"Insofar as possible" is a pretty big loophole too. Have to be certified as a flagger. Maybe Routt county has a shortage?

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Dan Kuechenmeister 7 months, 1 week ago

Talked to a flagger last week or so on 14 and 16 by Stagecoach Reservoir. He was looking forward to getting home to Gunnison. We must have a shortage of flaggers here in Routt County.

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John Fielding 7 months, 1 week ago

We certainly should spend the funds on local suppliers and contractors. If they employ a few individuals from out of town, fine, but for the most part local is appropriate.

So too for the police station. Does anyone know if the architects and engineers preparing the proposals are locals, we certainly have qualified firms in town that need the work. When the construction starts, same deal, awards to local contractors employing local subs.

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walt jones 7 months, 1 week ago

Mr. MacArthur, I take it your crews dont work on Fridays? I would think you want to finish that project sooner than later and have a ways to go. It didnt rain Friday until 4 ish and it looked quiet along the median.

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