City to start undergrounding utilities |

City to start undergrounding utilities

Christine Metz

The city of Steamboat Springs and Yampa Valley Electric Association are ready to start work on undergrounding utility lines between 10th and 13th streets in the Yampa Avenue alley.

The $275,000 project begins next week and should take about three months. The intent is to put all above ground utility lines, such as phone, electric and cable, underground.

City Deputy Manager Wendy DuBord said the project would close alleyways to traffic and parking. DuBord said the city will keep the public updated on which alleys are closed.

Entryways into businesses in the alleys will remain open, DuBord said.

“We hope to minimize inconvenience to the property owners and public and ask for everyone’s patience to complete this project,” DuBord said.

The project is the first phase in the city’s eight-year plan to underground utility lines in the downtown area. A Yampa Valley Electric Association 1 percent franchise fee will help fund the project.

The $4 million project includes four phases. The city will pay for the project and then collect the franchise fee. The fee raises about $120,000 a year.

YVEA is the general contractor for the project, DuBord said.

The city decided to start at the west end of downtown because of ongoing construction of the Waterside Development at 11th Street and Yampa Avenue. The developers, Steve and Michelle Caragol, will pay for the undergrounding of utilities on their property, which will have residential and commercial buildings.

This spring, the City Council gave downtown property owners incentives to put utility lines underground when remodeling buildings.

The ordinance split the cost building owners would have to pay if they chose to put utility lines underground during remodeling. The matching fund would not cover remodels that increased the size of the building by 10 percent or more and the city has a maximum contribution of $1,500.

Communities have been putting utilities underground since the 1970s, DuBord said. Breckenridge and Aspen recently completed undergrounding projects.

“It is what is standard in the industry,” she said. “Quite frankly, most communities, if they haven’t done it, are planning to do or intend to do it.”

The city has planned to underground the downtown utilities for years, DuBord said, because of safety, access and beautification reasons.

“It really cleans up alleyways and streets and is actually a benefit as well to utilities. They get new infrastructure in what is, in most cases, very old infrastructure,” she said.

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