Intercept Lot improvements in motion at popular parking area near Aspen |

Intercept Lot improvements in motion at popular parking area near Aspen

One of the key logistical components to pulling off this weekend’s Winter X Games is the park-and-ride lot at Brush Creek Road and Highway 82.

Nearly every one of the approximately 1,400 parking spaces — paved, partially paved and dirt — will be used this weekend for the ESPN-hosted event, now in its 18th year in Aspen and signed on for five more with a new contract announced this week.

“It’s as close as you can get because you can’t park at Buttermilk,” said Brian Pettet, Pitkin County’s public works director. “X Games is the No. 1 impact on the Brush Creek park-and-ride.”

The X Games’ impact spotlights the lot’s importance to the upper Roaring Fork Valley’s transportation strategy, and makes this week’s announcement that $4 million in improvements to the lot are finally set to take shape all the more welcome.

“I’m excited about it,” Pettet said.

Pitkin County commissioners heard Tuesday that public outreach efforts for the project — which was delayed a year waiting for federal funds to materialize — have begun. David Pesnichak, recently hired as regional transportation director, has met with members of the Brush Creek Metro District and is scheduled to meet with the Woody Creek Caucus next week.

Commissioner Patti Clapper suggested also contacting the W/J Homeowners Association as part of those efforts.

Those nearby neighbors will be able to provide input in these early stages for the project before design options are presented during public open houses in February or early March, said Pesnichak, who was hired by the Elected Officials Transportation Committee.

That committee — which includes the county board, Aspen City Council and Snowmass Village Town Council — will be able to comment on the project design at its quarterly meeting March 21, he said.

The EOTC approved the $3.9 million project in October 2016, with construction expected to begin this year. However, a $1.9 million federal grant was delayed a year, with that money now scheduled to come through in 2020, Pesnichak told commissioners.

The remaining $2 million for the project will come from EOTC matching funds.

One of the biggest improvements to the popular lot, which allows commuters and tourists to park their cars for free and ride free buses into either Aspen or Snowmass Village, will be actual bathrooms. They will replace the current portable bathrooms, though they will require digging a well and installing septic infrastructure.

Other improvements include paving the 200 spaces now covered by recycled asphalt, security lighting, additional landscaping and the relocation of the carpool kiosk from the Aspen airport to the lot. A variable message sign, to be installed downvalley of the lot, is expected to provide real-time updates about drive times to both Aspen and Snowmass Village, and the time that can be saved by taking the bus, Pettet said.

Public outreach, design and preliminary permitting for the site is expected to take a year. The federal funds will be available beginning in 2020, with construction scheduled to start as soon as the snow melts that spring and be finished by the fall, Pettet said.

The Intercept Lot is owned by the Colorado Department of Transportation, which purchased the 27.2-acre site specifically to provide parking during the expansion of Highway 82. The city of Aspen and the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority lease the site from CDOT, though it is located in Pitkin County.

Currently, the lot has 200 paved spaces, 200 recycled asphalt spaces and as many as 1,400 dirt spaces depending on how the area is utilized. In recent months, during peak periods, the 400 main parking spaces have been consistently in use, Pettet said.