Base Village to weigh on road | AspenTimes.com

Base Village to weigh on road

Steve Benson
Aspen Times Staff Writer

Eyeing the impacts of the immense Base Village project in Snowmass Village, the Pitkin County engineer has prepared cost estimates for widening Brush Creek Road into a four-lane highway.

Widening the road would cost an estimated $24 million, however, and county engineer Bud Eylar does not regard the plan as a viable solution.

“I think before we would ever go to a four lane, we would try to come up with some different methods to get people up that road,” Eylar said. “Having a four lane up that valley doesn’t make a lot of sense.”

That was a relief to Snowmass Village Mayor T. Michael Manchester, who wants to preserve the character of Brush Creek Road.

“I don’t think [a four-lane road] is a very good solution to manage in both the construction process and midterm,” Manchester said. “It’s been a goal of the community for quite some time to maintain the rural [character] of that road. I don’t see any reason to change that.”

The county’s jurisdiction over Brush Creek Road ends where the Snowmass Village town limits begin.

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If Base Village is approved and built, Brush Creek Road will take a heavy beating from large trucks stacked with building material. Eylar estimated that the impact of a multiaxle truck, such as a dump truck, driving on the road is the equivalent of 3,000 to 4,000 car trips a day. And that’s in just one trip.

With that kind of damage, Brush Creek Road will require serious upgrades or repairs. The cost estimates were prepared by Eylar to examine the variety of options the county has in addressing those improvements.

Eylar said that roughly four years after the commencement of construction on Base Village and the Snowmass Center, Brush Creek Road will need attention.

“If my assumption is correct, somewhere in that three- to five-year period we will have had to maintain the road,” Eylar said. “At that point we could probably do at least part of a rebuild, and [after construction] fix it up one last time.”

That final fix may include the widening of the road to accommodate increased traffic. The most probable type of widening, Eylar said, will probably come in the form of a series of passing lanes. He estimates that project will land in the range of $6 million.

“The assumption there is if you’re going to start to spend millions of dollars, you [should] make the step to do some real improvements,” Eylar said.

He stressed that the considerations and estimates are preliminary. And neither the Base Village nor the Snowmass Center projects have been approved by the Snowmass Village Town Council. Secondly, if those projects are passed, the county will still seek the advice of a professional firm with expertise in road condition studies.

“What we would like to do is get a report that says the road is in this condition and we need X amount of money to fix it,” Eylar said.

While the Snowmass Town Council and Pitkin County commissioners have butted heads on certain issues in the past, Eylar said there is consensus on the fate of Brush Creek Road.

“I don’t think Snowmass is not trying to work with us,” Eylar said. “I’m virtually certain the town of Snowmass would like to help the county.”

Manchester said that years ago he and County Commissioner Jack Hatfield, a former town councilman, actually worked on a process to add a third lane to sections of Brush Creek Road.

“I think that may have made more sense,” Manchester said. “It’s only the slow vehicles that cause a problem.”

Steve Benson’s e-mail address is sbenson@aspentimes.com

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