Transportation authority would offer funding, project options | SteamboatToday.com

Transportation authority would offer funding, project options

Margaret Hair

A city bus drives along U.S. Highway 40 on Saturday afternoon.

The possibilities for a regional transportation authority are vast – and that is a blessing and a curse, George Krawzoff told the transportation solutions group in a Thursday afternoon meeting at Steamboat Smokehouse.

“You can form an RTA to fund just about any kind of transportation improvement under the sun,” Krawzoff, a former city transportation director, told the group, which is led by the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association.

The Colorado Transportation Commission member presented possible sources of funding for a RTA to include Routt and Moffat counties, based on the state of Colorado’s definition of such an authority, which can be extended to any kind of ground or air transit.

“The flexibility is there, and it’s both the pro and the con,” he said about considering an RTA for the area. To put such a measure on a ballot, he said, planning authorities from all affected areas would have to agree on which projects would be built and on how those projects might be funded through vehicle registration fees, visitor benefit taxes, sales or use taxes, or traveler tolls.

Krawzoff discussed possibilities for Routt and Moffat counties in the context of two cases: the Pikes Peak RTA and the Roaring Fork RTA. He told the group that establishing an RTA is a long, recursive process, and he recommended seeking a consultant to aid that process, emphasizing a need to start work soon.

“Figure out the projects you really need for here, figure out a funding mechanism, and for godsakes, do ’em,” he said. “Otherwise, you’re just marking time while the world goes on.”

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In an Aug. 8 meeting, the transportation solutions group decided to address the broad topic through six subgroups: congestion on U.S. Highway 40, local transit and parking, regional transit, pedestrian and bicycle access, rural road and air service.

The third meeting of the group offered few concrete solutions. Instead, each group has pinpointed areas of concern – such as routes to school for the bike and pedestrian group – that they plan to work on in the near future.

The local transit and parking group offered suggestions about how to handle evening congestion on Lincoln Avenue during ski season, after dividing Steamboat Springs into four pods – the mountain village area, the Central Park area, downtown Steamboat and west Steamboat.

“We’re figuring out how to enhance mobility within the pods and between the pods,” said group participant Joe Cashen, of Colorado Group Realty. Cashen pointed to an increase in use and a decrease in funding of Steamboat Springs Transit, and he suggested looking into possible collaborations with private sector providers. Designated drop-off points for resort-company shuttles could ease evening traffic in the winter, he said.

“That could be a really dramatic improvement to the congestion in the evening hours,” Cashen said about setting aside some parking spaces on side streets for shuttle drop-off points.

“If we have to impact three or four parking spaces to facilitate the flow of 100 shuttles, to me, that’s a no-brainer,” he said.

Transportation solution group members hope to have key issues and possible solutions in order for a community open house in winter 2009.

Definition

Regional Transportation Authority:

“Regional transportation system means any property, improvement or system designed to be compatible with established state and local transportation plans that transports or conveys people or goods, or permits people or goods to be transported or conveyed within a region by any means, including, but not limited to, an automobile, truck, bus, rail, air or gondola.”

– Colorado Revised Statute 43-4-6