Underpass to make Lincoln Avenue, Pine Grove Road intersection safer for pedestrians, cyclists
Crews began work on the Fish Creek underpass on Monday.
Editor’s note: This story was updated at 10:15 a.m. Wednesday, Aug. 14.
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — There will soon be a new way for pedestrians, cyclists and others getting around on the Yampa River Core Trail to cross Steamboat Springs’ busiest roadway.
Contractors started construction of an underpass beneath Lincoln Avenue on Monday, which will allow trail users to cross Lincoln Avenue while avoiding the road’s intersection with Pine Grove Road.
The underpass follows an existing culvert that allows Lincoln Avenue to bridge Fish Creek. The eventual trail will parallel the east side of Fish Creek and connect to an existing sidewalk on the west side of the creek near Safeway. According to data from the Colorado Department of Transportation, the Lincoln Avenue and Pine Grove Road intersection is the busiest intersection in Steamboat, according to average annual daily traffic count — a measure of how many vehicles pass through the intersection.
“It’s purely a safety improvement,” said the city of Steamboat Springs’ staff engineer Danny Paul. “It gets the pedestrians and bikers off of the busy crossing at (U.S.) Highway 40 and Pine Grove, and it allows them to cross more safely underneath the highway, so they don’t have to experience that interaction with vehicles. There are high speeds in that section of Highway 40, with a lot of lanes, so it’s not a very comfortable experience (for pedestrians and cyclists). This will create that.”
He added that the project will create a link between existing, popular trails in an area that’s seeing increased development, including the Yampa Valley Housing Authority’s Alpenglow Village and the Residence Inn by Marriott.
The project is 20 years in the making, Paul said. There were efforts to build it when Safeway expanded about 20 years ago and when Walgreens was being built about 11 years ago. Neither came to fruition.
Then in 2009, a pickup truck struck longtime Steamboat resident Bob Bear as he crossed the intersection as he returned to his home in Selbe Apartments. He died later from injuries sustained when he hit his head on the road.
Paul said the tragedy, along with past efforts to build the underpass, elevated the project within the city’s priorities. The city pursued and won grant funding to complete the underpass.
On Monday, crews began construction on the $1.1 million project funded by city accommodations tax revenue and grant funding from the Colorado Department of Transportation and Colorado Parks and Wildlife. Paul said the project is expected to be open to the public in November.
Over the next few months, crews will begin to construct the approximately 700-foot path under Lincoln Avenue and a retaining wall to prevent the creek from flooding the trail. This will require clearing some trees and smaller vegetation in the area, which will be re-vegetated once the project is complete, Paul said.
“We know that’s going to be noticeable, but it’s also a goal of ours to protect as much of that as we possibly can,” he said.
Some of the existing trees will be saved. Once the project is complete, 15 new trees will be planted and willows will be planted along the stream banks next summer in partnership with Rocky Mountain Youth Corps.
While the trail is under construction, about 25 spaces in the Safeway parking lot will be unusable, Paul said. Once it is complete, about five spaces will be lost. For both the temporary and permanent loss of parking spaces, the city has Safeway’s consent, he said.
The city will host bi-weekly public information meetings every other Friday at 9 a.m in the Starbucks inside Safeway. The first meeting will be Friday, Aug. 23, followed by another on Friday, Sept. 6. Each meeting will be 30 minutes long and is intended to provide the public, business owners and property owners project updates and the opportunity to ask questions about the construction.
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