Steamboat Springs needs to triple investment in local roads to maintain good condition, study suggests | SteamboatToday.com

Steamboat Springs needs to triple investment in local roads to maintain good condition, study suggests

A lodging shuttle drives Thursday on a portion of Après SKi Way that has been rated to be in poor condition by a recent study of the city's road system.





A lodging shuttle drives Thursday on a portion of Apr├Ęs SKi Way that has been rated to be in poor condition by a recent study of the city’s road system.
Scott Franz

— The state of Steamboat Springs' road system is strong, but city streets will need a much bigger annual investment from the city’s budget to avoid crumbling in the coming years.

That's according to a broad new study of the health of the city's 78.6 miles of roads.

The $50,000 study utilized high-tech trucks armed with lasers and cameras to check on the quality of all of the city's streets.

The Phoenix-based consulting company that executed the study told the Steamboat Springs City Council Tuesday that if the city wants to maintain the overall good quality of its road system, it will need to nearly triple its annual road maintenance budget from about $700,000 to $2.15 million.

If it doesn't, the consultants warned, the city should expect to see its backlog of roads in poor condition grow above the current 8 percent and its deferred maintenance costs skyrocket in the future.

The study ultimately found about 66 segments of city streets are in poor condition and on the cusp of falling into disrepair and requiring reconstruction.

But overall, the city's roadway system was given a grade of 63 out of 100, which puts it in the study's “good” category.

The scoring system does not consider a road to be “poor” until it falls below a score of 40.

"This is going to be a great tool to use moving forward," City Streets Superintendent David Van Winkle said Thursday.

The report, which was the first of its kind issued in the city's history, was also eye opening for council members.

It essentially gave city officials the first overall report card for the city's road system, which is valued at $110 million.

Many City Council members indicated that while they are open to investing more in city roads to avoid future deferred maintenance costs, they don't think the city's investment will ultimately triple in the coming years.

"We're not going to go from $700,000 to $2 million. We can't," Councilwoman Kathi Meyer said. "But we can work and make sure that backlog (of roads needing immediate attention) doesn't (increase) really dramatically."

Council President Walter Magill said the city has likely been underfunding its annual road maintenance budget by keeping the investment at a static $700,000 for 11 years.

But like Meyer, he thinks the city's budget realities will prevent a dramatic increase in funding.

"It's just the fact of the budgeting of the city," he said. "It's certainly due for a 25 percent increase, maybe, and maybe that will take us a long way."

Which city roads are in the poorest condition?

The presentation showed a picture of Apres Ski Way near the intersection of Ski Trail Lane as a poorly rated road.

Spring Hill Road was among the highest rated in terms of quality.

Much of the study, including detailed breakdowns of all of the road conditions that were provided to city staff, and future road maintenance scenarios, have not been made public.

Steamboat Today is seeking more portions of the study, including maps showing road conditions throughout the city and their grades.

To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210, email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ScottFranz10