City, county talk Brown Ranch road maintenance responsibilities |

City, county talk Brown Ranch road maintenance responsibilities

Routt County and Steamboat Springs Public Works leaders attended the joint Routt County Commissioners and Steamboat Springs City Council meeting on Monday, May 15, to discuss the fate of County Road 42 as it relates to the Brown Ranch development.
Yampa Valley Housing Authority/Courtesy photo

Routt County Public Works Director Mike Mordi and Steamboat Springs Public Works Director Jon Snyder approached Routt County Commissioners and Steamboat City Council on Monday, May 15, to discuss the fate of County Road 42 through the potential annexation of Brown Ranch.

The question of the hour: If Brown Ranch gets annexed, should the city or the county maintain County Road 42?

The area of County Road 42 specifically of interest is the half mile north of U.S. Highway 40. On the stretch of road where Brown Ranch is slated to be, one side falls under city territory while the other side of the road would be the county’s.

The population estimate for Brown Ranch is 6,113, and that many more cars on the road could call for more plowing and maintenance. A key factor in this decision is that an urban level of road maintenance looks different than the county’s level road maintenance.

“The decision rests on what level of maintenance you want on that road,” Snyder told the commissioners and City Council members.

Routt County is set up for a rural level of maintenance, which is less intensive than urban. Roads under county maintenance receive one plow per day, but this may not suffice with the anticipated influx of traffic. 

Mordi and Snyder told commissioners and City Council that the county’s Public Works department currently has the staff to plow County Road 42 once a day, and this generally happens at 2:30 in the morning. Sleeping Giant School, though, which is near a major intersection of County Road 42 and Highway 40, has jurisdiction to plow near them anytime they want, although they do not necessarily take advantage of that.

In terms of plowing in Brown Ranch itself and on the auxiliary roads that will lead in and out of the development, those roads are envisioned to be treated as public roads by the city and would be plowed by the city. The auxiliary lanes that would provide access in and out of Brown Ranch would be at the expense of Brown Ranch.

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Alongside planning ahead for maintenance, Public Works also expects to see some changes to the structure of County Road 42 to accommodate more cars.

“It’s likely that through the final buildout of the Brown Ranch that more rights-of-way on County Road 42 will have to be acquired; I imagine more right-in and right-out lanes,” Mordi said. 

County Road 42 has a 115 feet right-of-way at the intersection of Highway 40, but narrows to 60 feet once it hits the area where Brown Ranch will be. With an expected influx of traffic due to Brown Ranch, Public Works for both the county and the city anticipate lane expansions.

County Manager Jay Harrington questioned whether County Road 42 would have to be expanded to four lanes to create two lefthand turn lanes from that road onto eastbound U.S. Highway 40. 

Mordi answered and said in order for that to happen, U.S. Highway 40 would have to add two through lanes in the eastbound direction. 

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