ABC underpass contractor misses deadline

Scott Condon
The Aspen Times

The contractor building the bus stations and pedestrian underpass at the Aspen Business Center will be penalized $3,300 per day starting today for missing the deadline for completion, according to Pitkin County officials.

Flatiron Construction earned the contract to build upvalley and downvalley bus stations at the business center as part of the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority’s expansion. The creation of the underpass was combined with the bus stations in a $5.4 million project. The contract with RFTA called for the work to be finished by Nov. 8 or Flatiron would be assessed a penalty, according to G.R. Fielding, Pitkin County engineer. Pitkin County is overseeing the work.

A second deadline date is Nov. 27. If that deadline isn’t met, the penalty is compounded, Fielding said. He said he believed the penalty would double to $6,600 per day, but the contract wasn’t immediately available for him to confirm that amount.

The delay could linger into the new year, according to Pitkin County Public Works Director Brian Pettet.

“We’re looking at getting into January before we get everything completed,” he said.

If that’s the case, Flatiron could be looking at a penalty of about $200,000 just in December.

Flatiron started slow and didn’t have adequate staffing early in the project, according to briefings provided earlier this year to RFTA’s board of directors. Pettet said staffing was beefed up over the past six weeks and time was made up, just not enough.

Flatiron had to scramble to be in position to relocate Highway 82 back to its regular alignment prior to ski season, as required by the Colorado Department of Transportation. The contractor planned to pave the roadway with asphalt this week, paint the new striping and reopen all four lanes by Monday. The paving couldn’t be undertaken because low temperatures have interfered with a nearby asphalt plant’s manufacturing process, according to Pettet. It was undetermined as of Thursday when the paving and striping can be accomplished.

“This is a moving target right now because of the asphalt — or lack thereof,” he said.

The underpass itself is completed.

“There’s light at the end of the tunnel on both sides,” Pettet quipped.

Flatiron still must complete the bus stations and the connections between the stations and the tunnel.

RFTA’s project manager on the expansion was optimistic as recently as early September that the underpass would be functional by Thanksgiving Day. Mike Hermes wrote a memo to the RFTA board for its Sept. 12 meeting, saying the underpass and stations should be ready for ski season but that Flatiron would have a significant amount of work, like landscaping, to complete in the spring.

For now, pedestrians must continue to cross Highway 82. The temporary bus stations will remain on the Aspen Business Center frontage road and the Aspen-Pitkin County Airport frontage road.

Officials with Flatirons press office couldn’t be reached for comment late Thursday afternoon.