EOTC discusses improvements to Brush Creek Park and Ride
During a three-hour meeting Thursday, the Elected Officials Transportation Committee gave direction on how to move forward with a handful of long-term and near-term improvements to the Brush Creek Park and Ride.
First, the committee gave David Pesnichak, regional transportation director for the upper valley, the go-ahead to continue to the final design phase of the more long-term improvements, like putting in permanent restrooms, increasing paved area, and upping security and lighting, planned for the area.
Next, it gave direction on how to explore long-term parking options and potential food trucks or farm stands over the next few months.
Overall, the committee — which includes the Pitkin Board of County Commissioners, Aspen City Council and Snowmass Village Town Council — centered its directives for Pesnichak and ideas on the proposed improvements on how they would incentivize more people to use the park and ride and how that use will and should evolve into the future.
“We’ve been working so hard to get people out of their cars, … and every transportation improvement we’ve been talking about in the last several years has depended heavily on improvements to the Brush Creek Park and Ride,” said Ann Mullins, EOTC committee member and Aspen councilwoman.
In 2019, design work began on more long-term improvements to the park and ride, which will be partially funded by the Federal Highways Administration (FHA), and was presented to the committee at 70% design Thursday.
The 70% design provided more detail on the permanent bathroom facility, 400-spot paved parking space, proposed flex space and bike path through the lot, and new motion-sensor, brightness sensitive lighting, along with adding more paved parking to “help encourage the use of transit and decrease particulate matter,” according to EOTC documents. This additional paved area, which could add up to roughly 150 more spaces, is proposed to serve as overflow parking during busy weekends and to utilize federal Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality funding Aspen and Pitkin County have received over the years to complete.
However, Pesnichak said because these improvements are partially funded through a federal program with other projects “in the queue” ahead of Brush Creek that have been delayed, construction on the improvements may be postponed from 2021 to 2022.
He also said the cost for the project is estimated at $6.5 million — $2.3 million more than originally projected in 2018. And although the FHA has agreed to increase its contribution from $2.2 million to $2.4 million, the EOTC still has a significant funding gap to fill.
“Right now we’re moving in the direction that we’re hopeful we’ll identify enough funding sources to keep everything moving,” Pesnichak said.
Pesnichak went on to say COVID-19 relief and other grant funding could help fill the gap and may become available if the project stays on track to be “shovel ready” by fall 2020, but asked the committee to identify which more secondary improvements should be prioritized just in case: restroom and parking area cameras, call boxes, an in-pavement snowmelt boiler or solar panels.
The committee expressed general consensus on prioritizing the solar panels most and also gave Pesnichak the go ahead to move into the final design phase of the improvements project. More funding specifics will be discussed further along, Pesnichak said. The improvements will be submitted to the county’s community development department and planning commission in the coming weeks, and should reach 95% design by August. After receiving direction and consensus on the long-term improvements, Pesnichak asked the EOTC to weigh in on if long-term parking options, small commercial operations like food trucks and farm stands, and a more permanent flex space building should be looked into at the Brush Creek Park and Ride. In the interest of time, the committee briefly shared their thoughts and questions about the potential of each idea with Pesnichak, generally agreeing that a pilot of small commercial and plan for long-term parking should be pursued in the coming months, and that the specifics of the flex space can wait.
The EOTC’s next meeting is scheduled for October, but members expressed the need to meet before then for more detailed discussion on the proposed near-term improvements for the Brush Creek Park and Ride.
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.