Double dose of bad news for Seven Castles residents |

Double dose of bad news for Seven Castles residents

John ColsonAspen, CO Colorado

BASALT Five homeowners in the Seven Castles neighborhood got a double dose of bad news this week – leavened with a little hopeful information.First, the bridge leading to their homes washed away when a huge flood came pounding down Seven Castles Creek on Aug. 6.And now, Eagle County has decided that any replacement of the old bridge – which was little more than the iron frame of an old train car, minus the walls and wheels, dropped across the creek channel – will have to meet new codes.And “that could be very expensive,” acknowledged homeowner Jerry Thomas, who had said earlier in the week that homeowners were hoping to get a crane to lift up the old bridge from its new position and place it back across the creek.”I would be very concerned about anything that would drive that cost way up,” Thomas said. No one The Aspen Times interviewed knew when the old railroad car originally was dropped across the stream, or whether there were any applicable county codes in effect at the time.According to Emergency Management Director Barry Smith, the county – aware that a bridge replacement up to current standards would be prohibitively expensive for homeowners – has come up with a new plan. The county, which cut a temporary dirt road off Frying Pan Road up to the five homes that bypasses Seven Castles Creek, is looking at the idea of making the temporary road permanent. The neighborhood is located above Basalt, in the Fryingpan River valley.Smith said the old bridge was “a nonconforming structure” in terms of its compliance with existing codes. And the county takes the view that the bridge – by shifting completely off its moorings – essentially was destroyed and must be replaced in keeping with current codes.And, Smith said, “because the bridge served more than three residences, it is not part of a driveway but rather is part of a road and would need to be constructed to the current road standard.”One potential roadblock to the plan is that the temporary road crosses property owned or controlled by the Colorado Division of Wildlife, and might cross some federal lands as well, according to Thomas and Smith. Smith said the county will contact any and all agencies to determine what can be done.”Our engineering department will be working with the homeowners to determine the appropriate options,” Smith said. “Once the cost of options is determined we can look into sources for funding, but most of the responsibility will probably be on the homeowners.”John Colson’s e-mail address is