Basalt/El Jebel eyed for major bus stations, more parking |

Basalt/El Jebel eyed for major bus stations, more parking

Scott CondonThe Aspen TimesAspen, CO Colorado
Janet Urquhart The Aspen Times

BASALT – The midvalley could end up with three major bus stations within 4 miles and an additional 200 parking spaces along Highway 82 when the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority finishes its expansion plan.The Basalt and El Jebel area is already a major hub for RFTA buses simply because it’s a major population center. But RFTA’s $50 million expansion plan proposes expanding a bus station in Basalt; relocating the bus station in El Jebel; and possibly creating a third bus station at Willits.RFTA staff and consultants unveiled details of the expansion plan at public open houses in Glenwood Springs, Aspen and Basalt last week. A final open house will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. today at the Carbondale Recreation Center. Major bus stations are planned on both sides of Highway 82 at the existing park-and-ride lot in Basalt, in front of the Basalt Store. The existing parking lot holds 104 spaces. RFTA wants to purchase vacant land immediately south of the existing lot and add 114 parking spaces, according to Wayne Feuerborn, associate vice president of HNTB, a Kansas City firm consulting for RFTA.Four miles downvalley, the main El Jebel bus station will be relocated from a site near El Jebowl to the main El Jebel intersection. RFTA has started discussions to purchase vacant land where the old Mermaids restaurant was located, southeast of the intersection, Feuerborn said. The site could hold 90 parking spaces.Bus riders would have to cross East Valley Road to access the upvalley bus station. A pedestrian underpass already exists under Highway 82 for access to the downvalley bus station.The bus stations on both sides of the highway could be fitted into the right-of-way, Feuerborn said.RFTA wants to acquire the Mermaids spot, rather than use parking at the Eagle County government building and Crown Mountain Park in El Jebel, to avoid multiple street crossings for access to the bus stations.”We’re trying to make the best out of a very difficult situation,” Feuerborn said.A third bus station might be created between El Jebel and Basalt at Willits. Joseph Freed & Associates, developers of the Willits Town Center, and Ace Lane, developer of the proposed Tree Farm project across Highway 82, must come up with funds for a pedestrian underpass beneath the highway before those stations are feasible.Financing issues have stalled the Willits project, leaving the status of the bus stations up in the air.Ultimately, RFTA figures all three sites warrant a major bus station because of the populations they serve. It’s best to spread the parking to all three sites rather than overburden any one location, Feuerborn said.RFTA has issued $27.55 million in bonds to help pay for the expansion, and it hopes to secure $25 million from the federal government. The first phase of the bus system expansion could begin this

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