County OKs up to $2 million for Brush Creek Road
Pitkin County commissioners said on Tuesday they’ll pay no more than $2 million to overhaul Brush Creek Road in the wake of a flurry of construction for Base Village in Snowmass.The county and resort developer Intrawest are in the midst of negotiations about the future of the road that will carry all of the construction traffic for the more than 1 million-square-foot project.Initially the developer proposed to pay 20 percent of the cost – up to $100,000 – of a thick resurfacing project to strengthen Brush Creek Road when Base Village is complete. Typically when a project lies in rural Pitkin County, the county has impact fees for roads that might be affected by construction traffic, said Brian Pettet, director of the county’s public works department. But in this case since the project is inside the town of Snowmass Village, no impact fee is available to the county. The $100,000 that Intrawest originally proposed didn’t come close to what the county expected, Pettet said. When Aspen Highlands Village was constructed several years ago, developers contributed $1.2 million to resurface Maroon Creek Road and help rebuild the Aspen roundabout.In 2002, Pitkin County budgeted $2 million to improve Brush Creek Road but delayed the project knowing that the Base Village was on the horizon.”We didn’t want to do the work on the front side to have it deteriorate with construction traffic,” Pettet said. As a result, Commissioner Mick Ireland proposed the county contribute no more than $2 million to the road project.The agreement would also stipulate that Intrawest must pay for at least half of the costs. If the project costs $3 million, Intrawest and the county would each pay $1.5 million. If the project costs $5 million, Pitkin County will contribute $2 million, leaving Intrawest with a $3 million bill.”I feel confident we won’t come close to that type of impact,” Pettet said, indicating that he’d be surprised if the county had to spend the entire $2 million. “Time will tell, and you can do as much geotechnical testing as you want, but until the construction traffic hits the road, we will not know what the impact is going to be.”Commissioners said the improvement, which will put a thick layer of asphalt over the road to strengthen it, should commence when the base village project is 90 percent completed.They also agreed a plan needs to be established for what can be done if construction traffic on the road begins to impact commuter traffic in peak hours. Intrawest has also asserted that it will pay for any “catastrophic road failures” due to heavy construction vehicles on the road. During peak season, the county says, between 10,000 and 13,000 vehicles travel up Brush Creek Road each day.Pettet estimates an “overloaded dump truck” has the impact of 3,000 cars. However, he said that figure is dependent on the kind of truck, how it is loaded, the road and the weather.The developers have also proposed placing a temporary concrete plant at the work site in Snowmass Village to keep Brush Creek Road more free of traffic during peak hours. Pitkin County Engineer Bud Eylar said that may enable the company to bring up raw materials for making concrete during the night.Intrawest also plans to construct a 1,400-foot uphill passing lane near the midpoint of Brush Creek Road. It would be removed after construction unless the county thinks it should stay in place.”The county is trying to protect the public asset, and they want Intrawest to contribute their fair share to the impact on Brush Creek Road,” Pettet said. The county will take this version of the agreement to Intrawest and hopefully have a “bona fide offer” to take to the county for the commissioner’s signatures in the near future.Naomi Havlen’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
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