City of Steamboat invested thousands to promote downtown businesses impacted by construction. West Steamboat businesses wonder why they didn’t get the same support |

City of Steamboat invested thousands to promote downtown businesses impacted by construction. West Steamboat businesses wonder why they didn’t get the same support

Traffic backs up on U.S. Highway 40 at the intersection of Elk River Road on Thursday afternoon.
Scott Franz

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — When construction trucks kicked up dust and generated noise in front of downtown businesses in Steamboat Springs for several months last summer, the city came to the aid of the affected merchants by spending thousands of dollars in advertising, wayfinding and a Diggin’ Downtown campaign.

But businesses in west Steamboat, which have reported lower sales and headaches this summer amid a major intersection overhaul in their front yard, said they have not been as fortunate.

And some are wondering why the city didn’t show as much support for them when they were in the dreaded cone zones.

“It would have been wonderful to have the same level of support the city provided to businesses on Yampa Street this past year,” Moe’s Original Bar B Que owner Chris Gander said.

When asked Thursday why the city did not mount a similar campaign for west Steamboat businesses, City Manager Gary Suiter said the answer is simple.

“The Elk River Road project is a different agency,” he said. “It is a (Colorado Department of Transportation) project. That’s the main distinction.”

“We have a role in the project,” Suiter continued, “But we’re not the lead.”

Suiter said the city cares about the businesses in west Steamboat, but he said there are also logistical issues that would prevent the city from lending any marketing power in the same way it did to downtown businesses when that project was solely controlled by the city.

“If we were to come in and partner with CDOT and try to provide different accesses or a campaign for these businesses (in west Steamboat), that would have to be something approved by the City Council,” Suiter said. “It would have budgetary impacts. There would have to be some organized requests coming in for it.”

CDOT spokeswoman Tracy Trulove said Friday it isn’t out of the norm for municipalities to come to the aid of businesses impacted by CDOT projects.

She noted that during the recent rebuild of the Grand Avenue Bridge in Glenwood Springs, the city and Glenwood’s chamber of commerce helped promote businesses in the cone zone in a similar manner to the way Steamboat aided its downtown businesses.

The Glenwood project was labeled the biggest infrastructure project on the Western Slope in 25 years.

“The city did put some money in for advertising,” she said.

She also noted CDOT is doing work for the city of Steamboat around the Elk River intersection, such as replacing utilities and adding sidewalks in front of businesses.

Why would CDOT not do the same type of campaign the city of Steamboat did for the downtown businesses?

“We do public information,” Trulove said. “We’re not a marketing company.”

Trulove said CDOT hosted open houses to prepare business owners for the impact the Elk River Road work would have on them.

There is also a project hotline.

“We’re always really good about working with businesses,” she said.

Moe’s owner Gander said CDOT has been “very receptive to our needs.”

He added he immediately sees results when calling CDOT project manager Cole Rising.

One of the biggest issues Gander had with the road work was an unexpected loss of water to the restaurant one day that forced an early closure.

There’s some good news for drivers traversing the cone zone.

Construction will stop for the Thanksgiving holiday after Tuesday.

And the project is still scheduled to wrap up by the end of the month.

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