Basalt pedestrian underpass construction hits ‘minor hiccup’ falls 10 days behind |

Basalt pedestrian underpass construction hits ‘minor hiccup’ falls 10 days behind

Construction is underway on the north half of the pedestrian underpass at Highway 82 and Basalt Avenue.
Anna Stonehouse/The Aspen Times |

Construction of the pedestrian underpass on Highway 82 at Basalt has fallen about 10 days behind schedule after the project hit “minor hiccups,” according to the project supervisor.

A supplier used concrete that wasn’t approved for the top panels of the underground structure, according to Nick Senn, senior project manager for the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority. He said a testing company and the Colorado Department of Transportation are checking the panels to make sure they can be used.

Six panels weighing 43,000 pounds each were hoisted by crane into place on the north side of the underpass late last month. The supplier cast the panels correctly, but the company decided unilaterally to use stronger concrete then specified by Basalt, RFTA and the state transportation department, Senn said. While stronger concrete sounds like a good thing, he said, it must be determined that no problems will arise.

If the top panels cannot be used, it will cause a longer delay of an unspecified time.

Senn told the Basalt Town Council on Tuesday night he remains confident the pedestrian underpass will be functional by the time school starts in August, and will be completed by October.

The $7 million underpass is being constructed at the intersection of Highway 82 and Basalt Avenue. It will make it safer for pedestrians to cross between the downtown core side of Basalt and the Southside neighborhood. A major upvalley bus stop is located on the south side, as is the high school.

The underpass also will help traffic flow because vehicles turning upvalley won’t have to wait for pedestrians crossing the highway.

Until the underpass is complete, construction will affect traffic on the highway. The contractor is working on one half of the underground structure at a time, starting with the north side. While that allowed traffic to remain in service on four lanes, the speed is reduced to 35 mph through the cone zone.

Senn said traffic will be switched from the south half of the right-of-way to the north in about four weeks. It will take about three days to make the transition because it involves moving barriers and restriping the lanes, he said.

The striping through the construction zone has been the biggest complaint about the project by commuters, Senn said. People are calling the hotline supplied on construction signs through the area.

“We’re getting a lot of calls about our stripping,” he said.

The deicer used by the transportation department wears the paint off, Senn said. The contractor goes in when weather allows and repaints the lanes by hand. However, the road surface is so salty the paint won’t stick, he said. They will continue attempting to repaint the lanes, he vowed.

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