Our view: Now’s the time to connect
April 25, 2017
New residential and commercial development on the city’s west side warrants better and safer trail connections for pedestrians and cyclists.
We’re impressed with the increasing progress we see taking place in West Steamboat, and we encourage the city to begin to taking steps to improve access to the Core Trail.
Steamboat Springs City Council President Walter Magill voiced his opinion during a recent council meeting that he'd like to see more trail connections on the west side of the city to give residents living there easier access to downtown via pedestrian- and cyclist-friendly trails.
New residential and commercial development on the city's west side warrants better and safer trail connections for pedestrians and cyclists.
We're impressed with the increasing progress we see taking place in West Steamboat, and we encourage the city to begin to taking steps to improve access to the Core Trail.
"It just seems like we're really underserving those residents," Magill said, and we couldn't agree more, especially in light of all the recent development underway in the area of town known as West Steamboat.
It's exciting to look across the street from the Steamboat Pilot & Today newspaper office, at the intersection of Elk River Road and U.S. Highway 40, and see packed parking lots outside of Moe's Bar B Que and the new Storm Peak Brewing Co. location. The backdrop for both of these burgeoning businesses is the brand new Reserves at Steamboat Springs apartment complex.
And down Elk River Road from the intersection is Butcherknife Brewing Co., which recently entered the city planning process to extend its serving area by adding a beer garden and outdoor performing arts area — more proof that this side of town is beginning to boom with new commercial development and residential projects in the works as well.
The city announced last month that it had entered into a partnership with the Colorado Department of Transportation to install new sidewalks from Shield Drive to Riverside Plaza, which will provide another important link in making the west side of town more walkable. This stretch of sidewalk will connect another two west-side restaurants — Big House Burgers and Little House — plus a busy hardware store and convenience store to the Riverside complex of businesses.
This sidewalk expansion is a good start toward increasing pedestrian connectivity on the west side of town, but we'd like to see the city enlarge its vision and find a way to build an underpass under U.S. 40 to allow people living on the north side of the busy highway a safe way to reach the Yampa River Core Trail on the other side.
We could envision the underpass being built near the Downhill Drive and U.S. 40 intersection. Pedestrians and cyclists could safely cross under U.S. 40 there and then head south on the sidewalk along Lagoon Court to Bear River Park and hop on the Core Trail there.
Routt County and Road and Bridge Department head Janet Hruby boosted connectivity for the city's west side when they created the West Connector trail just east of the Silver Spur neighborhood. The 1.8-mile dirt trail now gives pedestrians and cyclists a way to get from the west-side neighborhoods to the Gloria Gossard Parkway in the city limits without having to get on U.S. 40. And now would be a good time to formalize the Connector Trail to ensure that link remains intact.
We also believe the city should seize the opportunity presented by new vibrancy on the city's west side to establish a clear vision for building a highway underpass and connecting trail that would give the families who live in the neighborhoods of West End Village, West Acres, Silver Spur, Heritage Park and Steamboat 2 safe access to the Core Trail. It would also be a positive move if Brynn Grey, the developers who are trying to build 450 new housing units on the former Steamboat 700 site, would pledge to make a financial contribution toward new trail connections if their housing plan is annexed into the city and approved.
We agree with our council president that the people living in West Steamboat deserve the same access to bike and pedestrian trails that the rest of the city enjoys, and we encourage city leaders to begin formalizing a plan to make this happen at a time when this part of town seems poised for continued growth.