Commissioners approve Highway 82 construction detour for summer 2022 |

Commissioners approve Highway 82 construction detour for summer 2022

Commuters utilize the Hwy 82 roundabout as they drive into Aspen from down valley on Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2021. (Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times)

Pitkin County commissioners Tuesday approved the state transportation department’s summer 2022 plan to repave Highway 82 and reconstruct the roundabout, including a detour through Woody Creek.

Board members also gave the thumbs-up to contributing $100,000 toward the reconstruction of the roundabout and authorized the use of a strip of county-owned open space between the roundabout and the kiss-and-ride bus stop during construction.

“Doing a detour is really an essential part of this to make (the project) run as smoothly as possible,” Commissioner Steve Child said. “People are going to use it anyway.”

Commissioner Francie Jacober reluctantly supported the detour, but said she worried about provoking the anger of residents who live in Woody Creek and along McLain Flats Road and Cemetery Lane, where cars and light trucks would be routed during the summer and fall of 2022.

“I’d like to mitigate the anger,” she said. “That’s my concern.”

The Colorado Department of Transportation plans to repave Highway 82 between the Aspen Business Center and the Maroon Creek Bridge during part of the spring, all of the summer and part of fall 2022. The repaving will be done at night to minimize impacts to business.

The project will also include reconstructing the roundabout with concrete, which is much stronger and longer-lasting than pothole-prone asphalt, said Andrew Knapp, CDOT’s resident engineer in Glenwood Springs. The roundabout construction will likely cause most of the traffic delays between June and October, he has said.

As part of the reconstruction, engineers also will revamp the traffic flow a bit by extending the islands at the Highway 82 entrance and exit to the roundabout so only one lane flows past those areas, Knapp said. That should create less chances for conflict with cars that now can change lanes in those areas.

In addition to reconstructing the roundabout with concrete, CDOT engineers will extend islands at the Highway 82 entrance and exit so just one lane flows past those areas.

The concrete work came at the suggestion of Aspen City Council, which has authorized $980,000 for the project. In addition to the $100,000 from Pitkin County, CDOT also has asked for $300,000 from the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority and $271,000 from the Elected Officials Transportation Committee to help pay for the expensive concrete.

Once the concrete is in place, CDOT won’t have to repair the roundabout every two to three years, which is the current state of affairs, Knapp said.

“It shouldn’t have to be touched by our maintenance guys for a minimum of 10 years,” Knapp told commissioners Tuesday.

The concrete is expected to last as long as 30 years.

The detour down Smith Hill Way to McLain Flats to Cemetery Lane would not be an active detour with flaggers funneling cars that direction, Knapp said. While buses and large trucks would have to remain on Highway 82, cars would have the option of taking the detour , he said.

Knapp said Tuesday he didn’t know how many cars would be routed that direction per day.

Board Chairwoman Kelly McNicholas Kury, however, said she’d like to see flaggers or possibly temporary stoplights in spots along the detour route in case traffic backs up on those roads. Knapp said that could be done during busy periods.

Woody Creek Caucus moderator Bill Dinsmoor said last week that the caucus wouldn’t support the detour. And on Tuesday, Brian Pettet, the county’s public works director, said he’s already heard negative comments from residents along the route.

However, Pettet pointed out that the road was able to handle the number of cars during Highway 82 construction through Snowmass Canyon years ago, and that it can handle the number of cars generated by the summer 2022 project.

Four of the five commissioners present Tuesday – Commissioner Patti Clapper didn’t attend the meeting – supported the detour.

“We have to take care of our infrastructure,” McNicholas Kury said.


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