Basalt plans to remove stop signs on Willits Lane at Meadow Road |

Basalt plans to remove stop signs on Willits Lane at Meadow Road

Traffic heads south on Willits Lane to the stop sign at Meadow Road. The stop signs on southbound and northbound Willits Lane at Meadow Road were slated to be removed by Basalt on Aug. 26. That decision is on hold.
Scott Condon/The Aspen Times

The town of Basalt plans to eliminate stop signs on Willits Lane that have vexed many drivers but provided relief for others for about a decade.

The stop signs on northbound and southbound Willits Lane at Meadow Road will be taken out Aug. 26. Meadow Road is one of the major accesses to the Willits subdivision.

Basalt Town Manager Ryan Mahoney said the stop sign was installed as a way to slow traffic rather than to help vehicles turn onto Willits Lane. The Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices advises against using stop signs for speed control, he said.

A study this summer indicated speeding isn’t an issue on Willits Lane anyway.

“We don’t seem to have much of a speeding problem.” — Town Manager Ryan Mahoney

“In the northbound lane, we did have about 69,800 vehicles pass through in that 30-day period and, of those, 458 had been speeding so it was basically less than 1%,” Mahoney told the Town Council Tuesday night. “We don’t seem to have much of a speeding problem.”

The stop signs can be annoying for travelers on Willits Lane because there is frequently no one waiting to emerge from Meadow Road, particularly during the middle of the day.

However, Willits resident Carol Hawk noted at the Town Council meeting that the three-way stop provides a useful service. She said stopping vehicles on Willits Lane before they turn into Willits builds awareness of pedestrians and bicyclists on a trail that parallels Willits Lane. Hawk said she has witnessed several “near misses” between vehicles and cyclists.

The stop signs also promote extra safety when the school bus stops there, Hawk said.

Hawk said she spoke to Basalt Police Chief Greg Knott about the removal of the stop signs and learned from him that “tons of people have asked to see this stop sign go away.”

Even if that is the case, she said, the town should have engaged in a more thorough process to collect opinions.

“There should have been open houses to discuss something this important and I hope we are given that courtesy as a neighborhood because I do believe it’s going to be a safety issue,” Hawk told the council.

Mahoney said the town has been getting the word out about the change.

“We did reach out and inform all of the HOAs in that area so they are aware and we’re going to put out variable message boards so that people know that stop sign will be removed and start conditioning them to the new circumstance out there,” Mahoney said.

“We believe that that stop sign in that location is not doing a great service and we believe that safety is addressed,” he said.

However, future development could come into play on Willits Lane ingress and egress issues. A large-lot subdivision is planned on 10 acres on the west side of Willits Lane across from Sopris Circle. Basalt resident Brian Rose and his 10 Acres Holdings LLC, have applied to develop five lots. Rose bought the 10 acres from Ted Guy for $1.45 million, according to a copy of a warranty deed in the land-use application.

The application shows the access to the subdivision about 280 feet north of the intersection of Willits Lane and Meadow Road.

Hawk told the Basalt council it would make sense to align the access to Rose’s new development with Meadow Road rather than create a separate ingress/egress onto Willits Lane. If the alignment occurs, the intersection should have a four-way stop, she said. A ranch driveway now exists where Rose wants the access to the property on the west of Willits Lane.

The alignment issues might be out of Basalt’s hands. Rose’s property is in unincorporated Eagle County, so the application will be reviewed by county officials.