The new Steamboat Springs Transit facility in Craig is more than "steel and mortar," Craig Mayor Don Jones said.
At a special grand opening event at the facility Wednesday afternoon, Jones told a crowd of about 43 people that cooperation will be the best asset to overcome economic troubles.
"As we enter a year of change and times of economic uncertainty, we must rely more and more on our neighbors and each other to survive the darkest hours," the mayor said. "The partnership between the city of Steamboat, city of Craig and the Moffat County commissioners is an example of how Craig and Steamboat can work together to serve the best interests of the Yampa Valley."
Other speakers concurred with Jones.
The new Steamboat Springs Transit building will give workers commuting from Craig to Steamboat a place to sit and park their cars, said Wendy DuBord, Steamboat interim city manager.
She said she had to thank every member of the partnership who made this happen with financial support, in addition to local governments, including the Federal Transportation Authority, Colorado Department of Local Affairs and Colorado Department of Transportation.
Susan Kirkpatrick, DOLA executive director, was in attendance to receive the compliment but said she could not fully accept it because local officials deserve the credit.
"The Department of Local Affairs brings money, but you all bring the tenacity and the ideas for these kinds of projects," she said. "The part that the department plays is rather small."
Other transportation projects will be critical in the future, Moffat County Commissioner Audrey Danner said.
"Transportation is important for our region's economy and our welfare," she said. "People and money move along our highways everyday. To continue moving our workforce, we will need to be innovative with our dollars and our focus."
Former state Sen. Jack Taylor, who hails from Steamboat Springs, said Danner was "absolutely" right about the need for transportation solutions, not only in Northwest Colorado, but all across the state.
"Transportation is a big problem right now, and money is the biggest problem," he said, alluding to the state's projected $600 million deficit in 2009.
The senator added that one of his dreams is a statewide passenger rail system, which will take the same kind of broad-based partnership to build as the new local bus station he was standing in.
For now, the transit facility itself will not change Steamboat Transit's normal Craig operations.
However, Jonathan Flint, Transit operations manager, said officials are considering adding a third bus to morning and evening runs between Steamboat and Craig. That won't happen in the immediate future because of budget constraints among local government bodies.
There also is some rumor that Greyhound Lines, the national bus service, is interested in reopening a route from Salt Lake City to Denver, Flint said, but the company has not contacted Steamboat Transit.
As it happens, though, the new Craig facility partly was designed with such an occurrence in mind, he added.
"We built it for ourselves, but we didn't want to narrow our possibilities," Flint said. "So we added things - like a ticket counter, a waiting room, restrooms, we built it in an area where food service is nearby - in case a company was interested in stopping here.
"It would be great if we could get them back here."
Collin Smith can be reached at 875-1794 or firstname.lastname@example.org