City, county disagree over priority of expanding Yampa River Core Trail west

Charlie Welch, 15, runs along the Yampa River Core Trail in March. (Photo by Shelby Reardon)

In a joint meeting Tuesday, Steamboat Springs City Council members and the Routt County Board of Commissioners shared varying opinions on whether they’d like to put $800,000 toward expanding the Yampa River Core Trail west of Steamboat.

The trail currently ends at the Bear River Skateboard Park, and the city would like to extend it west to the Steamboat ll and Silver Spur neighborhoods.

The project proposal would extend a concrete sidewalk from Snow Bowl Plaza to Sleepy Bear Mobile Home Park along the south side of U.S. Highway 40. The sidewalk would then cross the highway via a pedestrian underpass near Slate Creek.

At this point, the trail would transition from concrete to soft surface, or dirt, and would run from the highway north to the current alignment of the soft surface West Connector trail, running from Gloria Gossard Parkway to Silver Spur. The soft surface trail running between the underpass and Silver Spur would be a relocatable trail and would be built in concrete if future development occurs in the West Steamboat area, said Public Works Director Jon Snyder.

Snyder said the project will likely cost around $4 million. The majority of the funding would likely come from federal and state grant money, but the city and county would need to come up with about $800,000 combined, according to Winnie DelliQuadri, city special projects/intergovernmental services manager.

“In order for us to be successful in getting grants, we do need to show that there is a county partnership and a school district partnership,” DelliQuadri said. “If we don’t have acknowledgment on each of those levels, there will be a red mark against us, and they’ll ask why we don’t have that.”

The city has designated $440,000 from the accommodations tax fund toward the project and is asking for a matching amount from the county.

While City Council has discussed the Core Trail extension as a top priority, all three commissioners said they appreciated the idea but felt such a large sum of money could be better spent elsewhere.

“When I think about what the greatest needs of the community are and how to support those needs, there is a long list of things we can spend $400,000 on,” said Commissioner Beth Melton. “At least from my perspective, the Core Trail is great, but it’s hard to identify this as a top priority for that amount of money in my mind.”

Commissioners Tim Corrigan and Tim Redmond said they supported funding some of the project but did not feel it was worth the entire $400,000 ask.

“Part of my concern is, I wonder how heavily that extension is going to be used,” Redmond said.

If the city and county choose to move forward, Snyder said several options could be available for phasing the project, depending upon future grants, as well as future development between the existing city limits and Routt County Road 42.

Snyder said he anticipates the first phase of construction would involve the segment between Snow Bowl Plaza and Sleepy Bear, including the U.S. 40 underpass. The soonest this first phase could be constructed would be 2023.

A subsequent phase would involve a soft surface trail through undeveloped land from the underpass to Routt County Road 42. Final phases would involve paving of the soft surface trail, if and when, future developments come online.

The city and county did not take a formal vote Tuesday but will discuss the item again in the future.

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