Verizon pursuing new cell tower to boost signals in west Steamboat Springs | SteamboatToday.com

Verizon pursuing new cell tower to boost signals in west Steamboat Springs

Scott Franz

A map shows the proposed location of a new Verizon cell tower at 2300 County Shop Road.

Several cell phone users in west Steamboat Springs may soon be spared from dropped calls, missed texts and slow data connections that have plagued the region for years.

Verizon Wireless and Routt County are reportedly close to reaching an agreement to have Verizon build a brand new, 60-foot-tall cell tower up at the county shop, not far from the intersection of Elk River Road and U.S. Highway 40.

The site will aim to improve 4G-LTE capacity in the area, according to an application from Verizon.

Plans for the new tower, which were reviewed by county officials, show room for at least one more cell phone service provider to co-locate at the county-owned site. But it wasn't known Wednesday whether another wireless company has plans to do that.

An AT&T spokeswoman said the company does not have plans to add any more towers in Steamboat this year.

It isn't uncommon for cell phone companies to share space at a tower to save money.

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Routt County Commissioner Cari Hermacinski said she expects the board could vote on an agreement for the new Verizon tower in the next month.

"We haven't approved the contract yet, but (county attorney Eric Knaus) is getting really close," Hermacinski said.

Commissioners took a first step Tuesday and approved a zoning application for the cell site.

A development proposal will have to be submitted and approved by the city of Steamboat Springs.

Hermacinski said it was encouraging to see a cell phone service provider investing money in west Steamboat.

"What usually happens is money goes to major urban centers," she said. "When I see money come to more rural areas, I'm excited."

Cell phone service in west Steamboat has been so spotty in recent years, the lack of reliable service came up as a con when the city of Steamboat Springs was deciding where to build a new police station. Police officials said officers need reliable cell service.

The city and county are currently moving ahead with a shared law enforcement facility next to the Routt County Jail.

Hermacinski said the new tower is good news for that project, and she's agreeable to having another cell phone service provider tap into the site.

Hermacinski, who is also a telecommunications consultant, has experience establishing new cell phone towers in Routt County.

She was recently involved in a project to get a cell phone tower for AT&T near the city's wastewater treatment plant.

"In my experience, this process (to get approvals to build a tower) takes four to six months," Hermacinski said.

She said once the company has approval, the tower can be built pretty quickly.

In addition to a 60-foot-tall monopole tower, the site will include some outdoor equipment cabinets and a generator enclosed in a 6-foot-tall wooden fence.

A site acquisition consultant for Verizon based in Tabernash said she was not authorized to speak to the media and passed along an interview request to the company.

Verizon did not immediately return a call regarding the interview.

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