Basalt pedestrian underpass work now ahead of schedule |

Basalt pedestrian underpass work now ahead of schedule

This view shows construction on the north half of the pedestrian underpass at Highway 82 and Basalt Avenue earlier this winter. The work is now ahead of schedule.
Aspen Times file photo |

Work on a pedestrian underpass on Highway 82 in Basalt has gone from two weeks behind schedule on St. Patrick’s Day to ahead of schedule, according to a project supervisor.

Nick Senn, a senior project manager for Roaring Fork Transportation Authority, said this week the contractor aims to get the tunnel prepared for use by pedestrians sooner than originally planned. The goal was to have the underpass open by the time school starts in August.

The new strategy is to get the tunnel in use a few weeks to even a month earlier, Senn informed the Basalt Town Council. If pedestrians are using the tunnel rather than the surface crosswalks, the roadwork affiliated with the project can proceed more efficiently, he said.

The $7.14 million project is being built at the intersection of Highway 82 and Basalt Avenue. It will make it easier for pedestrians to cross between the downtown core and Southside, where the Basalt park-and-ride and bus stop is located as well as Basalt High School.

In addition to the tunnel, an extra turn lane will be added to the south side of the intersection for traffic turning from Basalt Avenue onto eastbound lanes or upvalley on Highway 82. There will be extensive repaving during the “heat of the summer,” Senn said.

Construction crews built half of the tunnel at a time. Traffic on Highway 82 was shifted to the half not under construction. The work led to extensive delays in the beginning, but adjustments were made that eased but didn’t eliminate congestion.

The tunnel work that remains includes waterproofing, backfilling the walls and landscaping around the entrances.

Senn said construction crews didn’t have as many issues as anticipated with the water table. Cool weather has delayed runoff, for the most part.

Basalt town government is still investigating a $408,000 shortfall in revenue for the project. Town officials learned this month that anticipated revenue from a federal and a state grant were one in the same. They are trying to discover how the accounting mistake was made and by whom.

Interim Town Manager Davis Farrar said the staff would have a report prepared for the Town Council for the June 13 meeting. Town officials have said they will likely dip into parks, open space and trails funds to make up the shortfall.

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