A multi-million-dollar utility project that began this week in Oak Creek is being counted on to serve as the “backbone” for future economic development in the town of about 900 people.
But in the meantime, it will require traffic detours around the commercial district throughout the spring and summer.
Oak Creek Town Administrator Mary Alice Page-Allen acknowledged this week that the construction project will cause some pain among business owners — more than 15 turned out to meet with town leaders this month.
The work includes replacing a corroded iron water main on Main Street — Colorado Highway 131 — as well as installing curb, gutter, sidewalks and a storm drain system.
“These improvements will be the basis for Oak Creek’s downtown revitalization over the coming years, as well as supporting existing and new business infrastructure needs for the next 50 years,” Page-Allen said. “I never want to see this road touched again.”
Initial Oak Creek Main Street detour
During utility construction on Main Street (Colo. 131) in Oak Creek, northbound traffic will be re-routed on the south side of the street to a left on Routt County Road 50Z (Willow Bend) then onto Nancy Crawford Boulevard through town to the bottom of Routt County Road 27 near the county road shop, then over the railroad crossing and back onto Colo. 131 for the drive down Oak Creek Canyon.
While Main Street is torn up this summer, construction crews with Native Excavating will also bury a separate empty conduit with the possibility it would someday carry fiber optic cable that would foster 21st century telecommunications infrastructure in the town.
The project is being funded with help from a $2 million grant from the Colorado Energy Impact Assistance Fund and another $1 million from the State Drinking water revolving loan fund. The town of Oak Creek has set aside $500,000 for a grant match.
Page-Allen expects the improvements to serve as the basis for Oak Creek’s downtown revitalization by supporting new businesses and infrastructure. The town’s economy has received a boost in recent years from marijuana grow facilities that provide cannabis to retail operations beyond Routt County.
Initial work on Main Street is beginning on the east end of town near the Space Station gasoline and convenience store.
Page-Allen said electronic detour signs at either end of town will advise motorists that downtown businesses remain open throughout the construction. She said she’s also been told that a sign alerting trucks with over-sized loads to take another route will be in place near the interchange with Interstate 70 and Colo. 131.
Numerous motorists traveling between South Routt and Steamboat already drive around Oak Creek via Routt County Road 14.
Native Excavating’s contract calls for the project to be done by the end of October, but company officials have told Page-Allen they hope to complete the work by mid-September.
To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205, email tross@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ThomasSRoss1