Pitkin County getting back to work – on roads
October 26, 2011
ASPEN – Motorists in Pitkin County will encounter something next year that they haven’t seen a lot of lately – road construction.
A new five-year capital plan for the county calls for spending $10.8 million on roads and bridges. The money will come from a new capital fund created with accumulated balances and half of the county’s annual sales tax revenue.
Funding for capital projects for roads – major paving and rebuilding projects on the roads the county maintains – took a hit during recent years, dropping from $1.9 million to $400,000 annually. The latter sum would be enough to fund one major project in 2012, according to G.R. Fielding, county engineer.
Instead, five projects are planned in addition to usual maintenance endeavors (plowing, filling potholes, etc.). Problem parts of Woody Creek Road and Fryingpan Road will see rebuilding from the base, while all of Brush Creek Road, Redstone Boulevard and Smith Hill Way are scheduled to be resurfaced.
In addition, design work for the replacement of the upper Castle Creek Bridge is budgeted, with the actual project scheduled in 2013.
The capital budget for roads and bridges totals $1.9 million in 2012 and $2.2 million in 2013. The five-year plan calls for $1 million in expenditures in both 2013 and 2014 to repair roads in the Airport Business Center, where significant drainage improvements are contemplated, and failed or seriously deteriorated asphalt exists in various places, according to Fielding.
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County commissioners, in a review of the spending plan Tuesday, gave an informal nod to next year’s proposed projects, though Commissioner Rob Ittner urged “front loading” the county’s spending on roads – putting another $1 million toward the effort in the next five years. Projects have been penciled in for the next 10 years.
“I think it’s really a question of whether we maximize economies of scale and the return on investment for dollars spent,” he said.
Favorable bid prices make doing more projects sooner attractive, Commissioner Rachel Richards agreed, though Commissioner George Newman questioned how many projects could realistically be accomplished in one construction season.
County manager Jon Peacock said staffers will explore an accelerated plan for road projects and bring the topic back to commissioners during this fall’s budget discussions.