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Downtown business critical of execution of Yampa Street project

A banner shows what Yampa Street will look like when the major construction project is completed.
Scott Franz

— Some business owners on Yampa Street are not happy with the city of Steamboat Springs’ execution of the major downtown construction project, which aims to transform the street into a more pedestrian-friendly roadway.

While the business owners remain excited about the improvements the project will bring, they are faulting the city for not doing enough to mitigate the impact of the work, which they say has significantly impacted their revenue.

A delay in the rollout of wayfinding signage is among the top complaints.



The city has worked this week to address the complaints.

“It feels very unorganized,” E3 Chophouse owner Jeff LaRoche said Thursday of the project, which is now in front of his restaurant. “The first signs they put up (directing people to our businesses) were absolutely awful.”



LaRoche and other business owners on the street said they have received multiple telephone calls from prospective diners who could not figure out how to get across the two-block construction zone.

“There are always going to be audibles during construction, but at the end of the day, they kind of dropped the ball in helping any business out through this process,” LaRoche said.

LaRoche estimated his business is down 50 percent due to the construction occurring outside of his front door.

Phil Armstrong, who owns Aurum Food & Wine, said his lunch business has “been all but obliterated” by the construction that started in mid-May.

“No one wants to hear the noise and the dust,” he said.

Armstrong also was critical of how the city rolled out the project and felt officials didn’t deliver on their promise of using wayfinding signage to help people navigate the construction fences and barricades.

“It felt rushed, and it feels disorganized,” he said. “I think they’re doing a fine job right now, but I think the whole project could have began April 1 and stopped at the end of June. Because they are doing this at such a prime time, it’s been very impactful.”

The frustration from the business owners reached the City Council dais Tuesday, when Councilman Jason Lacy questioned why more wayfinding signage had not been installed to help people navigate the construction site and get to the businesses.

He said he had heard from several business owners about the issue.

“I’m a little disappointed, to be honest, that it’s June 21, and we don’t have good signage already,” Lacy said. “We need to put this on top of the priority list. (These business owners) are worried, and we need to make every effort … to make sure our signage is as crystal clear as possible.”

The city was working to install the additional signage prior to that council meeting.

Mary Brown, who is a member of the public relations team the city hired for the project, said Friday the new wayfinding signs were installed this week.

They direct people to businesses that are on the other side of the construction fences.

New banners also show visitors what the finished product will look like.

“They were held up a little bit in production,” Brown said of the wayfinding signage. “It just didn’t get done as quickly as we would have liked.”

Brown said the project is otherwise running smoothly and is on schedule.

“They will be out of the Sixth to Eighth street intersection on the first of July,” Brown said. “They are right where they want to be. It’s actually all going pretty smoothly.”

Residents and visitors can keep up with the road closures and construction impacts by calling the project hotline at 970-871-7052 or visiting diggindowntown.com.

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


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