Aspen Business Center project will go into spring 2014 | AspenTimes.com

Aspen Business Center project will go into spring 2014

Michael McLaughlin
The Aspen Times

It's messy, dirty and often inconvenient, but work at the Aspen Business Center is making progress.

The center, located across Highway 82 from the Aspen-Pitkin County Airport, was designed in the 1970s. It's now much more residential than first planned with a large pedestrian presence. The business-center project is part of a 10-year plan for capital improvements in the county.

The work being done represents the first big capital-improvement project in Pitkin County since 2007. Project planning began in 2008, but the actual construction didn't begin until May.

The project originally was estimated at a cost of $2.6 million but grew to $3.4 million after several enhancements were added to the original proposal, as well increased construction costs.

Improvements to the business center's storm water system are one of the biggest elements of the project. The original rural gutters and ditches throughout the center are outdated and were overwhelmed during heavy rains.

The county replaced the original 24-inch drainage pipes with 42-inch pipes along Baltic Avenue, where clogged drainage has been a consistent problem. More than 80 percent of the business center's runoff drains under the intersection of Baltic Avenue and the 400 Ave. Road.

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The original 24-inch pipe only had two inlets that directed street water into the drainage area. Those inlets became inadequate as the business center grew and would often get blocked, causing a buildup of street water that often found its way to the foundations of buildings along the street.

The new construction added a total of eight drainage inlets.

The stormwater conveyance system goes under the Stein Trail and will direct water into a new holding pond near the Roaring Fork River. That water going through the holding pond will filter out impurities before the water is directed into the river.

The Stein Trail will also be reinforced where erosion has taken its toll over the years.

Other goals include upgrading the existing roads throughout the business center, as well as improve pedestrian amenities, adding new sidewalks and lighting.

The project has caused some inconveniences for the people living in the business center. There have been complaints against all the dirt and dust that the construction causes. Several people have asked when the Stein Trail will be fixed as it is popular with hikers and joggers. Others aren't happy dealing with the ruddy streets being worked on.

Be patient, said county engineer G.R. Fielding.

"I understand some of the inconveniences are tough for the short term," Fielding said. "But obviously it'll be good in the long run. This community really needed upgrades to the aging infrastructure. It's not a sexy project like a new building, but it keeps our way of life going."

Another complaint has been the loss of established trees and grassy areas throughout the center as drainage pipes are replaced and sidewalks added.

Fielding said the original construction plans included removing as many as 125 trees, but changes were made and the number of trees being removed is down to 25.

"We've made tweaks in the plans to save as many trees as possible," Fielding said. "We're trying to be sensitive to what people want to see happen. We don't have real estate to work with. … In other words, we're constrained by the space we have to work within."

The project is more than halfway completed. The work by the county is being done in conjunction with upgrades being made by the Aspen Consolidated Sanitation District, the city of Aspen Water Department, Holy Cross Electric, Comcast and Century Link.

The original completion date was slated for this later this fall, but according to Fielding, there definitely will be more work that needs to be completed next spring.

"We coordinated the capital improvements so we don't need to keep ripping things up," Fielding said. "Work will spill into next year. Essentially, we're waiting for the utilities to catch up to where we're at. They're replacing utilities that were set 30 to 40 years ago. It's time to do it."

mmclaughlin@aspentimes.com

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