County tees up Basalt underpass project |

County tees up Basalt underpass project

Pitkin County commissioners provided the final piece of funding Tuesday that should allow the construction of an underpass beneath Highway 82 in Basalt.

The county’s in for a total of $640,000 — $400,000 from the open space fund and $240,000 from the general fund — said Pitkin County Manager Jon Peacock.

The project, which would connect both sides of Basalt Avenue and allow pedestrians and bikers a far safer alternative to crossing the highway, has been on the drawing board since 2004, said Basalt Town Manager Mike Scanlon. And provided the Basalt Town Council accepts a new, lower bid for the project at next Tuesday’s meeting, construction could begin within 45 to 60 days, he said.

The underpass project went out to bid earlier this year for the second time. The latest round of bids came in March 16, with United Companies bidding the lowest at $6.2 million, Scanlon said. United Companies was the low bidder last time as well.

With non-construction related costs, the total cost for the project is now about $7.16 million, he said, which is about $1 million less than the lowest previous bid.

“The town manager was doing a happy dance Thursday afternoon (the day after the bids came in lower) in his office,” Scanlon said.

Scanlon and Basalt officials were able to cobble together funding from seven different sources to pay for the project. The town of Basalt is the biggest contributor with $2.9 million approved for the underpass, followed by the Colorado Department of Transportation with $2.1 million committed.

The Elected Officials Transportation Committee contributed $750,000, the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority chipped in $500,000, while a “Safe Routes to School” grant added another $280,000, according to town of Basalt documents.

In addition to the $640,000, Pitkin County also will provide staff support for the project, which will come in handy because the county recently built an underpass at the Aspen Business Center that dealt with many of the same issues the Basalt project will encounter, Peacock said.

Officials hope the underpass will be open for public use by August 2017 and fully completed by October 2017, according to documents. Scanlon said having it done by August is important because CDOT plans to close and replace the Grand Avenue Bridge in Glenwood Springs around that time, which will affect Highway 82 traffic. Underpass construction also will inevitably affect Highway 82 traffic.

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