Expect traffic alterations for work on Basalt underpass
The Basalt underpass project is cranked up to the point that motorists and pedestrians will face major changes over the next two weeks, according to officials.
Basalt Avenue must shift 15 to 20 feet west, or downvalley, on both sides of Highway 82 during the project, according to Pitkin County Engineer G.R. Fielding, who is helping supervise the work. A crew started drilling into the roadway Wednesday to put in caissons for the new temporary traffic lights, Fielding said.
Basalt Avenue north was closed Thursday night from 6 p.m. to 5 a.m. between Highway 82 and the roundabout. The temporary traffic signal is scheduled to be installed on the north side Wednesday. Traffic will be reduced to one lane for travel in both directions from 6 p.m. Wednesday to 5 a.m. Thursday, according to Bob Schultz, a consultant helping the town government with public information about the project.
“From about 6 to 8 p.m. it will be a pain in the butt,” Schultz said. “After that it probably won’t be that big of a deal.”
The signal will be installed on Basalt Avenue south Thursday, setting up the same scenario. Traffic will be reduced to one lane from 6 p.m. Thursday to 5 a.m. Friday, according to Schultz.
The “next big milestone” in the project will come Nov. 10 when traffic lanes on Highway 82 are shifted to the south side of the highway corridor, according to Fielding.
Traffic lanes will be shifted to the south while work is undertaken on the underpass on the north side of the highway corridor.
Similar construction management was used to build the pedestrian underpass at Willits. Traffic disruptions were minimized because four through lanes remained in operation.
In conjunction with the shift of the traffic lanes, the bus shelters on both sides of the highway will be shifted about 200 feet upvalley, according to Schultz. They will remain in the relocated positions throughout ski season, he said.
The underpass of Highway 82 will make crossing safer for pedestrians traveling between Old Town and the South Side neighborhood. It also is expected to help the flow of traffic because pedestrians won’t be crossing at the signals.
With many lingering questions still surrounding the fate of Aspen’s historic Old Powerhouse, City Council decided during Monday’s work session to hold off on providing staff direction on moving the preservation project forward until more information can be presented.