Pitkin County plans road project

Aspen Times staff report
Aspen, CO Colorado

ASPEN – Pitkin County will tackle one big road maintenance project this year – patching and chip seal to extend the life of Upper River Road, county commissioners were told Tuesday.

Commissioners were briefed on the status of the county’s underfunded roads and bridges, for which the capital budget dropped from $1.9 million annually in 2008 to $400,000 per year for the past three years.

The Upper River Road project, at a cost of roughly $600,000, will require use of some of the county’s undesignated funds along with money allocated to roads and bridges, according to County Manager Jon Peacock. Likely to be done this fall, the project will cover the stretch between Gerbaz Way and Smith Hill Road.

Also scheduled this year is culvert work on East Sopris Creek Road.

Upper River Road should be reconstructed, but money for that more extensive project is not available, said Brian Pettet, county public works director. A proposed tax to fund roads failed at the polls in 2008; the county subsequently slashed capital funding for roads and bridges to balance the budget in the face of an economic downturn. The county continues to allocate money for basic maintenance such as snowplowing, dust control and road sweeping.

Also on the county’s radar is designing a new bridge on upper Castle Creek Road. The existing span, about 9 miles up the road from the roundabout, has the lowest rating of any bridge in the county, though it remains safe for travel, said G.R. Fielding, county engineer.

The bridge’s rating, however, qualifies it for federal bridge replacement funds. Replacing the span is probably more cost effective than repairing it, Fielding said, and design work is proposed in 2012. The span is expected to need replacement within the next five years.

The south Redstone bridge over the Crystal River, built in 1947, is the oldest bridge in the unincorporated county that is still in use. It is expected to need significant rehabilitation or be replaced within the next decade, Fielding said.