New Emerald Park access slowly chugging along
September 21, 2016
Steamboat Springs — The city of Steamboat Springs is now hoping to have the new and much-anticipated entrance to Emerald Park open by fall 2017 or spring 2018.
But the schedule for the new access remains at the mercy of the railroad.
"The crux of the project is dependent on Union Pacific and when they can install (the crossing) signals," City Engineer Ben Beall said Tuesday.
For many years, the city has been planning the new entrance to replace the current park entrance that takes heavy traffic down Pamela Lane.
The project saw a breakthrough last year, when Union Pacific told the city it would not oppose its application for a new railroad crossing to replace the existing vehicular crossing next to Freshie’s.
Public Works Director Chuck Anderson said the city plans to start road work next year, then wait on the railroad to install the signals and the new crossing platform.
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For the city, the latest hurdle has been securing placement of a quiet zone, so trains will not blow their horns at the new crossing near the Hampton Inn between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m.
Anderson said the city recently made progress in securing the quiet zone.
The city has budgeted more than $2.3 million in its capital plan for the project.
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.
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 to add a stoplight at the new park entrance.
The city's latest status update on the project came after Councilwoman Kathi Meyer said residents in the area had asked her about how much longer it would take to construct the new entrance.
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 due to heavy traffic, while others have said speeding cars have threatened the safety of children.