Expansion of Yampa River Core Trail westward getting closer to reality

Project still looking for about $1.5 million in funding

Mac Stilec walks along the Yampa River Core Trail in Steamboat Springs.
John F. Russell/Steamboat Pilot & Today

Expanding the Yampa River Core Trail is getting closer to a reality, as local officials have identified more than half the funding needed to connect western neighborhoods to the rest of town.

The expansion — which is being called Multi-Modal Trail West, though it is still casually being referred to by officials as the core trail — would add a paved path from where it now ends near SnowBowl to the entrance of Sleepy Bear Mobile Home Park.

There would then be an underpass under U.S. Highway 40 near where Slate Creek currently goes under the road. The trail would then transition to a “soft-surface” or dirt trail that would traverse across the Yampa Valley Housing Authority’s Brown Ranch property, eventually making a connection near the Silver Spur subdivision.

“The design is essentially complete,” said John Snyder, public works director for Steamboat Springs at a joint meeting between City Council and Routt County Commissioners on Monday, Sept. 19. “We should be ready to bid the first quarter of next year.”

Mac Stilec walks along the Yampa River Core Trail in Steamboat Springs. Expansion of the core trail would add various sections of new path that would eventually make a connection with the Silver Spur subdivision.

The project will also extend a water line out to Sleepy Bear, which is not currently connected to the city’s system, despite it being within city limits. That water main will also provide a redundant connection to water for the Brown Ranch, Snyder said.

The water main will cost about $1 million and is being paid for entirely out of the city’s utility fund, Snyder said. The money for the rest of the project comes from a variety of sources.

“This project could not happen without an extensive amount of grant funding just because it’s so expensive,” Snyder said.

The Core Trail West project would expand the Yampa River Core Trail from Snow Bowl Plaza to Silver Spur, and will run through the Brown Ranch development once it’s finished.
City of Steamboat Springs/Courtesy image

The city has received $200,000 from the Colorado Department of Transportation’s multi-modal option fund and $75,000 from Great Outdoors Colorado to pay for design of the trail extension.

When it comes to construction of the trail, Snyder said the city is still looking for funding opportunities.

The city has an additional $590,000 from CDOT’s multi-modal option fund and plans to apply for a $1.3 million grant from CDOT’s Transportation Alternatives Program. Snyder said money from that program is designed to go to projects that create alternative transportation options to driving.

The city also intends to spend about $1.7 million of its own money on this project.

Routt County has set aside $500,000 of its money from the American Rescue Plan to help with the project, though county manager Jay Harrington said that money hasn’t officially been allocated yet. Harrington said that money will help meet the matching fund requirements in the Transportation Alternatives Program grant the city intends to apply for.

But that still leaves Snyder about $1.5 million short of the $5.1 million construction costs on the project. If needed, Snyder said he would phase the project in to parts, building the parts of it that the city has obtained funding for.

The city has requested direct congressional spending from Colorado Senators John Hickenlooper and Michael Bennett, but Snyder said each has indicated the project likely won’t get funded that way.

Still, Snyder said there are new opportunities coming from the bipartisan infrastructure bill passed in Congress last year.

One option stemming from that legislation could be to go after a type of grant that aims at reconnecting communities, Snyder said. The bipartisan infrastructure bill includes $1 billion over the next five years for such grants.

The catch is that these grants are large grants that require a large local funding match. The minimum project expenditure would be $10 million, with half of that coming from local coffers.

“What they do allow you to do is bundle projects,” Snyder said.

Another potential project in the bundle could be an underpass near the Steamboat II and Heritage Park subdivisions. Residents in this area have been complaining with increasing frequency since the opening of Sleeping Giant School that there is no safe way for children to cross the road.  

A resident near Heritage Park told commissioners last month some children have been using a culvert to get from one side of the road to the other.

There aren’t any plans to build this underpass as of now, therefore the cost of it isn’t known. Snyder said the underpass on the proposed core trail expansion near Sleepy Bear is projected to cost about $1.1 million.

The safety of this intersection also came up during a meeting between commissioners and CDOT last month, though CDOT officials didn’t indicate any plans for an underpass or a traffic signal at that intersection. Snyder said the intersection doesn’t currently meet metrics CDOT has that would warrant a traffic signal, though that doesn’t mean CDOT wouldn’t allow one.

“If that’s a grant that you guys are interested in pursuing I can start working with both of our granting departments to see if this is something we could qualify for,” Snyder said.

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Steamboat and Routt County make the Steamboat Pilot & Today’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.