Red Mountain to turn up the heat? | AspenTimes.com

Red Mountain to turn up the heat?

Naomi Havlen

Red Mountain Road may get a major overhaul next year that could include heating coils to de-ice one of the road’s steepest spots, if homeowners are willing to foot the bill.Pitkin County has $2 million to spend on reconstruction of the road that links the city limits with some of the priciest homes in the nation. According to Brian Pettet, the county’s public works director, it has been at least 20 years since major roadwork was done.County road technician Bert Pearce said the road is long overdue for improvement.”Anyone who has ever tried to drive up that road during a snowstorm knows that it can be impassable at times,” he said in a prepared statement. “It’s a busy road and includes a lot of delivery traffic, not to mention emergency vehicles that need to get up there from time to time.”Although the county is just working on preliminary drawings for the project so far, new asphalt is in the works. The project would begin at the city limits and go up to the top of the hill, where a private road begins.Another priority for crews is the road’s drainage problems in the areas where irrigation ditches and springs occasionally collide with the road. That work will probably be started later this year, Pettet said.Everything else is still under consideration, he said. The county has been meeting with homeowners on Red Mountain since the spring to determine what residents would like to see done with the road they drive, walk and bike on every day.”We’ve heard from some Red Mountain residents that they like the road narrow, funky and slick in the wintertime,” Pettet said. “But some of the newer residents there would like the road to be wider, with more of an urban setting. We have to balance the two, and that’s a challenge.”There may be some minor grade changes to the road and some widening involved with the project, although Pettet noted that the county doesn’t have much extra space to work with. The county would also like to provide some sort of platform or trails for bicyclists to travel on if they need to.When it comes to heating up the road, the county is interested in de-icing the steepest part of the road that stretches uphill for 200 yards just beyond Willoughby Way. But the county’s $2 million will not stretch that far, Pettet said.”The county is committed to building the best road we can, but if homeowners can chip in through their associations, we can heat it,” he said. “Historically, there’s a bottleneck there in the winter for the two-wheel drive cars without winter tires, and it’s closed multiple times in the winter regardless of plowing or sanding.”The county has also proposed that a small roundabout be constructed at the road’s intersection with Draw Drive. The roundabout could slow drivers and add some capacity to the road, ensuring that motorists coming from Draw Drive don’t have to stop at a stop sign.Pettet said that in a few places the county may need construction easements to get on private land for construction work. After the work is done, the county would return the land to its previous condition.Red Mountain homeowners and the public are encouraged to attend a public meeting to discuss the preliminary plans on Tuesday from 5 to 7 p.m. in the old youth center space at 455 Rio Grande Place in Aspen. For more information, call 920-5390.Naomi Havlen’s e-mail address is nhavlen@aspentimes.com