Steamboat City Council discusses large transportation plan with a $200M wish list
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Steamboat Springs City Council and staff are seeking public input on a plan to fund various forms of transportation — roads, trails and Steamboat Springs Transit — for years to come.
Steamboat city engineer Ben Beall proposed 78 projects with a total price tag of $200 million, though Beall and senior planner Kelly Douglas said the projected cost is an optimistic goal, not a set-in-stone reality.
The plan is broad and includes a list of projects to be built over several decades, and city staff members said it is simply a first step, which is why they’re seeking community thoughts before moving forward.
“The transportation plan is really a planning development document so that we’re all kind of pointed in a similar direction that says, ‘If we’re going to expand, this is how we want to do it,’” said Jonathan Flint, Steamboat Springs Transit manager.
Council members discussed multiple ways to secure money to fund the plan, including a tax, a one-time impact fee and money from the state or federal government.
However, some council members felt residents would see a tax or impact fee as a “money grab,” as council is deep in discussions about putting a property tax on the November ballot and has discussed a lift tax, specifically to fund Steamboat Springs Transit.
“This is the fourth or fifth thing we’ve discussed about how we can fund more for our city, and it could look like we’re getting greedy,” said council member Lisel Petis. “If we’re looking at impact fees and property tax and a lift tax, at some point, our community is going to wonder what’s going on.”
Petis also acknowledged the city would not have the means to fund the entire transportation plan and would need state assistance no matter what.
“The reality is we will not be paying for 100% of these projects, so we need to figure out those other funding sources,” Petis said. “We don’t have all this money, and we won’t be able to do all these things to get all the money to do them.”
Some of the projects included in the plan involve widening of U.S. Highway 40 (Lincoln Avenue), repaving Oak Street and constructing bikeways going east and west on Lincoln Avenue.
“We are at a critical juncture right now, and we want to have a plan that is more than just a wish list of projects,” Beall said.
Council members also discussed creating a Regional Transit Authority with Hayden, Oak Creek, Craig and Moffat County, which they believed could help fund specific projects.
“A list of projects like these and a concept of creating a walkable and bikeable community has a big price tag — it’s a big-picture item,” council member Sonja Macys said. “Each of these projects are much bigger than just a small bump in our budget.”
Council President Jason Lacy said a regional transit system would also help the municipalities involved obtain more state funding, which all council members and staff agreed would be essential to fund these projects.
“This could be a Yampa Valley-wide issue,” Lacy said. “I think with the way housing prices are going in this community, transportation is going to become one of the top, if not the top, issue that we’re going to have to contend with as a community.”
Council will discuss the proposed plan at another work session later in the year.
To reach Alison Berg, call 970-871-4229 or email aberg@SteamboatPilot.com.
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