It's been more than 25 years since the city of Craig last created a transportation plan for the future, City Manager Jim Ferree said.
It's time for a new one.
The city recently contracted with Stantec, a nationwide professional consulting firm with a Denver office, to conduct a three-stage assessment of the city's transportation infrastructure and future needs.
The contract is for about $80,000, though Ferree said the number could change if the city decides it wants more work done.
The firm anticipates the work will be done by July 1, but that may change depending on weather conditions and when the project can begin. Ferree said it should take six months to create a plan that maps out the next 20 years.
The plan may reflect substantial changes to Craig that will impact residents.
One of the biggest could be the transition of Ninth Street from its two-lane surface to a busier avenue, Ferree said.
"Even in the 1980s, that was planned to go all the way out to : the west side of town," he said. "But, right now, we're wrestling with what to do with that plan and the housing developments going in west of the college's new building."
If Ninth Street were to be redesigned, it could look more like Yampa Avenue than a neighborhood road.
Ferree also said the plan would address changes to U.S. Highway 40 and Colorado Highway 13 as Craig grows.
"I think we're probably looking at some fairly substantial retail development on Highway 40, and a little less on Highway 13, so they may look pretty different than they do now," he said.
There is no telling how big Craig will get, Ferree added. But, even if the city's population continues to grow at the same rate it has since the 1980s - about 2 to 3 percent, he said - these changes likely will be necessary by 2030.
The cost for all this also is an unknown, Ferree said, but Stantec will prepare financial projections as part of the contract.
Depending on specific construction projects, the costs could be split among the state, city and any private developers involved.
Stantec also will address how the city could construct a northwest bypass system for shipping traffic coming down on Highway 13 and leaving east toward Steamboat Springs.
However, the study is not only concerned with roadways two decades from now. The plan also addresses the pedestrian needs of today.
According to the scope of work document, Stantec will look at how to improve local and regional mass transit systems and sidewalk improvements.
Ferree said one thing the city wants to discuss now is how to improve the bus stops for Steamboat Springs Transit's routes through Craig each morning and night.
To answer all these transportation questions, Stantec and other subcontractors will monitor road and pedestrian traffic across town. Ferree added that these projects should be invisible to residents, and there won't be any road closures or other inconveniences.
However, the city plans to announce future open house meetings where residents can speak with the consultants, hear about the plans and offer input, Ferree said.
"We want this to be a really open process," he said.