City eyes new Emerald Park access in 2016 |

City eyes new Emerald Park access in 2016

— The more than 15-year-old quest to create a new access to Emerald Park and end traffic headaches on Pamela Lane may finally reach a conclusion next year.

After a breakthrough in negotiations with the Union Pacific Railroad over a new crossing, the city of Steamboat Springs is moving ahead with a plan to create a new access to the park that would replace the current access that runs through Pamela Lane.

The new access could be created as soon as next year.

For years, Pamela Lane residents have at times endured and complained about heavy traffic in front of their homes from people accessing the park.

Some residents have shared horror stories of not being able to park a motor home in their driveway because traffic has been so bad, while others have said speeding cars have threatened the safety of children.

The new access to the park is planned to come in the form of a new at-grade railroad crossing for pedestrians and vehicles just south of the Hampton Inn.

The existing railroad crossing at Trafalgar Drive would be closed to vehicles and remain open only to pedestrian traffic via the Yampa River Core Trail, essentially sealing off Pamela Lane from park traffic.

Union Pacific recently stated it would not oppose the city’s pending application to the Public Utilities Commission for the changes to the crossings.

Trafalgar, which runs behind the Hampton and connects to the stoplight at U.S. Highway 40 and Hilltop Parkway, would be improved with the addition of parallel on-street parking spaces and sidewalks.

There is no plan for a new stoplight directly at the new access on U.S. Highway 40 because the Colorado Department of Transportation has informed the city it would be too close to the existing light at U.S. 40 and Hilltop.

City staff on Tuesday will update the Steamboat Springs City Council on the project.

Community members can also learn more about all the specifics of the plan and weigh in.

Beall said city staff has been working with Pamela Lane residents and business owners off Trafalgar to address concerns about the new access.

For example, he said owners of the Hampton Inn expressed concern that train horns would be louder at their property because of the addition of a new crossing near the hotel.

Beall said the city has applied for a quiet zone at the crossings that would run from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m.

Some business owners near Trafalgar have also expressed concern about how changes to that road will impact traffic and snow removal.

The city and property owners off Trafalgar signed an agreement in 2006 that allows the road to be used to access parks and recreational facilities.

Beall said the city has also discussed the plan with Pamela Lane residents, and most have been supportive of it.

Pamela Lane resident Tracy Barnett and her husband, Cooper, were the first to buy a home on the street in 1981, long before the addition of the park created traffic problems.

Tracy Barnett said Wednesday she is cautiously optimistic the new access will be created and that the extra drive she will have to take to get to U.S. 40 if Pamela Lane is sealed off will be worth the tradeoff for less traffic.

“I’m really pleased the city has done their homework and really pursued getting this done,” she said. “I’m afraid if it doesn’t happen this time, it won’t ever happen.”

The Steamboat City Council in recent years has approved $2.1 million for the new access.

The city is hopeful the new crossing signals and the new road can be constructed next year after some prep work this fall.

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

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