CDOT unveils new 82 |

CDOT unveils new 82

Construction of the new upvalley stretch of Highway 82 in Snowmass Canyon has been completed, and the lanes are expected to open next week at the latest.

The Colorado Department of Transportation hosted a ride-along Tuesday morning on the new highway, which is the last of seven projects completed between Basalt and Buttermilk. The new lanes rise hundreds of feet above the Roaring Fork River, providing great views of the valley.

“It’s a huge thing,” said Joe Elsen, CDOT program engineer, about completing the stretch.

He said the physical landscape of Snowmass Canyon made for an enormously difficult project.

“Widening this highway has presented the design and construction teams with challenges that were even more difficult than we encountered in Glenwood Canyon,” said Elsen in a press release.

Project engineers Ed Archuleta and Pete Mertes “worked very well with the Ames [Construction] team and the collective staff to get through this challenging project without a lot of disputes,” Elsen said Tuesday morning.

Additionally, the project was lauded for its sensitivity to the environment, including wildlife and the Roaring Fork River.

“This [project] was very environmentally sensitive, and you don’t see that a lot in highway building today,” said Pitkin County Commissioner Mick Ireland.

Owen Leonard, CDOT regional transportation director, said the improvements will reduce the number of fatal accidents on what is commonly referred to as “Killer 82.”

“The safety on this road is going to be tremendously improved, and lives are going to be saved as a result,” Leonard said. “And it’s worth every penny.”

Until work is completed on the original Highway 82, slated for next fall, the new upper lanes will act as the primary route of travel for both up and downvalley traffic.

CDOT and Ames crews will soon begin construction on the downvalley lanes between Snowmass Creek Road and Gerbazdale.

The Snowmass Canyon project cost nearly $93.4 million. The cost of the seven highway widening projects totaled $208 million.

[Steve Benson’s e-mail address is]

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