Pitkin County OKs $3.4 million ABC project

Staff report
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO, Colorado

ASPEN – Rising construction costs and the expanding scope of a road project slated this year at the Aspen Business Center have driven costs $800,000 over budget.

Pitkin County commissioners, with Commissioner Michael Owsley absent, agreed Tuesday to fund what is now a $3.4 million project. Work on road repairs, pedestrian amenities and drainage improvements that include a retention pond between the business center and the Roaring Fork River is expected to begin in May. The pond, sidewalks and other pedestrian enhancements have been added to the project since its inception.

The project originally was estimated at $2.6 million. About $300,000 of the $800,000 in added costs is attributable to increased construction costs – a factor that also drove up the cost of the nearby Highway 82 underpass project. Outside engineering estimates came up far short on that project.

“This isn’t the first time staff has been in front of the board this year asking for money in order to complete a project because of rising construction costs,” acknowledged G.R. Fielding, county engineer.

Unanticipated savings in the county’s 2012 capital and operational budgets will cover the added expense, according to Jon Peacock, county manager.

The Aspen Business Center work is part of a 10-year plan for capital projects in the county; some commissioners suggested that plan needs to be adjusted in light of the escalating costs of construction.

“That plan means nothing at this point in my mind. Well, not nothing, but it’s probably grossly understated,” Commissioner Rob Ittner said.