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School bond includes funding for road improvements near proposed high school

Traffic waits at the intersection of Elk River Road and U.S. Highway 40 on Tuesday. The Steamboat Springs School District plans to partner with the city to improve intersections that would see extra traffic if voters approve a bond to construct a new high school on the west side of the city.
Scott Franz

— If voters here approve a bond to construct a new high school on the west side of the city, the Steamboat Springs School District plans to help improve the road intersections that would see extra traffic.

Some Steamboat Springs City Council members recently wondered aloud what the district’s plans were for investing in the nearby intersections that would be impacted by a new high school.

The council was told by city staff the district has the option to follow city planning rules that require developers to mitigate traffic impacts by contributing to nearby intersection improvements, or it could ignore those rules because the district’s building plans are submitted to the state and not the city.



The district plans to partner with the city just as a private developer would be required to.

The district’s $92 million bond package includes a $1.7 million budget for the high school site that would be dedicated to intersection improvements, standard development costs such as permits and fees, utility extensions and other traffic improvements.



“What we want to be able to do is to be a good neighbor and partner,” Steamboat Springs School District Superintendent Brad Meeks said. “We want to talk to the city and see what their long-range plans are and do what we can to complement them.”

To help gauge how much money to include in the bond for intersection improvements near the Overlook site, the school district looked at what financial contributions the developers of Overlook Park development would have had to make had their 140-lot residential development been realized.

Based on a traffic study done in 2009, the developers were planning to pay about $480,000 toward future improvements at the intersections of Downhill Drive and U.S. Highway 40 and Elk River Road and U.S. 40.

Meeks said the district anticipates the overall traffic impact of a new high school will be similar or less than what that residential development at the same site would have created.

The district’s total financial contribution to improvements would ultimately be determined by a new traffic study.

The district’s bond also includes funding for traffic studies at all of the campuses that would be renovated if the issue passes.

The district put together the budgets for traffic improvements at all of the campuses after consulting with its civil engineer, who has been talking with the city, the Colorado Department of Transportation and Routt County about the impacts of the construction.

To address the extra traffic that would be generated by a new high school at the Overlook site, the district anticipates it would contribute financially to improvements at the intersection of Downhill and U.S. Highway 40 and possibly the intersection of U.S. 40 and Elk River Road.

The city and the Colorado Department of Transportation already have plans to improve the Elk River Road intersection regardless of whether a new school is built in the area.

The Downhill Drive intersection is currently on the city’s list of parked capital projects, meaning it is not scheduled to be constructed in the next six years.

The passage of the bond could move that project up on the list of priorities.

Improvements to the intersection of U.S. 40 and Elk River Road are scheduled to begin next year.

The improvements at Downhill Drive would at a minimum include the addition of acceleration and deceleration lanes and could possibly include a traffic signal in the future.

District and city officials will meet next week to further discuss the potential traffic impacts of the proposed bond.

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


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