Basalt shells out money for stoplight |

Basalt shells out money for stoplight

Scott CondonAspen, CO Colorado

BASALT Pressure from concerned residents helped convince the Basalt Town Council on Tuesday night to loosen its purse strings and shell out $503,000 for a new stoplight on Highway 82.Two weeks ago the council majority balked at paying nearly twice as much as anticipated for installation of the traffic signal at the Highway 82-East Valley Road/Original Road intersection.Facing a potentially hostile crowd of about 20 people Tuesday night, the council members were quick to stress they would approve the expenditure. The town staff made the spending easier to swallow. Town engineer Larry Thompson worked with the sole bidder on the project and convinced KECI Colorado Inc. to reduce its price for the project by nearly $49,500, or 9 percent, off the original bid.The reduction helped convince Councilman Mark Kittle to endorse the stoplight. He also noted that more than a dozen people sent letters or e-mails to Town Hall to lobby for the light.”I just can’t go against all these letters,” Kittle said.KECI’s original bid to install the stoplight was $553,337. It reduced its bid to $503,916 after negotiating with Thompson.The town government must dip into reserves to fund the project. It budgeted $175,000 for the stoplight and has collected another $68,700 from developers of new projects in the area to apply to the project. That leaves it short by $280,000.Basalt is paying to install the traffic signal even though it will be located along a state highway. The Colorado Department of Transportation paid for engineering but wouldn’t commit to funding the light.That might have been a blessing in disguise. The cash-strapped agency claimed it receives only about $310,000 annually for new stoplights in the 14-county region that includes Pitkin County. In addition, the Basalt stoplight didn’t crack CDOT’s top 20 list for priority traffic signals in the region, according to spokeswoman Nancy Shanks.In the best case scenario, Basaltines would have waited until 2027 for CDOT to fund that stoplight, given current funding levels.Thompson told the council that KECI officials felt the project can be completed this fall.Scott Condon’s e-mail address is