No going back on Little Annie
Despite previous agreements, Little Annie Road will probably not undergo any large-scale deconstruction now that the Sundeck project is completed.
The Aspen Skiing Co. improved the road up the backside of Aspen Mountain last year, despite the protests of Little Annie Basin residents, for construction traffic to the site of the new Sundeck restaurant and club atop the ski area.
Before the Sundeck project began, the Skico promised county officials that it would restore the road to its preconstruction condition after the Sundeck was completed. That promise was embodied in a construction management plan hashed out between the county and the Skico in 1998 and 1999.
But Pitkin County officials and residents of Little Annie Basin have now generally agreed that putting a lot of time and work into returning the backcountry Jeep road to its previous unimproved condition is not desirable.
County Engineer Bud Eylar, after meeting with those involved last Thursday, said the extent of additional work to be done is yet to be determined. But the construction management plan agreed on by the county and the Skico said the road was to be returned to its original condition.
“We’re in discussions now as to what that really means, or what it will look like when it’s done,” Eylar said.
Eylar said the gravel laid down on muddy sections of the road will likely not be removed.
“I don’t think anybody expects the Skico to dig up the road and screen it and put the dirt back down,” Eylar said. But he said gravel thrown off the road by traffic would be removed from ditches and the surrounding areas. He said a discussion of revegetation and replacement of trees killed or damaged by road work and truck traffic was inconclusive.
Eylar also said areas of the road widened to accommodate large trucks may be reduced to about 15 feet.
Bill Kane, a Skico vice president and planner, agreed that there would probably be no work to actually degrade the road except possibly to make it narrower at certain points. But he said not only stray gravel, but boulders that rolled downhill as a result of the improvements, would be picked up.
Kane said there was some agreement between Little Annie residents, the county and the Skico that sending road crews and equipment back up the road would cause more disturbance than it was worth.
“I think the feeling was by far that the cure was worse than the disease,” Kane said.
Randy Gold, a resident of the Lime Creek Village subdivision on the road, confirmed that, with the exception of a couple of residents, his neighbors are willing to live with the status quo.
“Everybody else feels like it’s kind of ridiculous to spend a bunch of money and wreck the rest of the summer,” said Gold, referring to additional construction traffic and delays.
Gold said that traffic may have picked up on the road – something the homeowners wanted to avoid. But he said he can’t tell if it’s because the road is improved.
“I would have a hard time blaming the ski company,” Gold said. He said the added traffic could be the result of more people knowing knowing about the road and its views. And the road probably isn’t any better, overall, than last year.
“There’s a couple of places where it’s actually worse,” Gold said, noting that heavy-gauge road base put down on the road made it “more gnarly.”
“I wouldn’t bet that you could get up there with a sedan,” Eylar agreed.
Gold said all in all, the residents’ concerns are being addressed. “I think things are on the right track,” he said.
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