Roundabout in Snowmass gets public comment
November 17, 2014
Snowmass Village residents had an opportunity at an open house Wednesday to learn about and weigh in on a design for a roundabout at the intersection of Wood, Brush Creek and Kearns roads.
The roundabout, long envisioned as a solution to traffic issues at Snowmass' primary intersection, is expected to break ground this spring. Some community members don't see the roundabout as necessary, while others see it as crucial and belated.
"It's long overdue for a very poorly configured intersection," resident Stan Clauson said.
Snowmass Village Transportation Diretor Dave Peckler remembers when the town conducted studies as long ago as 1984 indicating that a roundabout would be the best solution to the intersection. The town considered stop signs, traffic lights and other methods, but in 1984 and now in its current iteration, a roundabout was and is "the most logical approach," he said.
Mayor Bill Boineau said he doesn't think the design is perfect — for instance, it would be nice to install a snowmelt system so that the road surface won't freeze, he said — but it's the best option with the town's resources and all the factors involved.
Many people who attended the open house Wednesday at Town Hall were concerned about conditions on the road, too, and about people's ability to stop when driving downhill on Brush Creek Road. The grade on either side of the intersection will be as high as 10 percent before gradually flattening out into the roundabout. The ground will be more level through the intersection after the redesign than it is now.
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"Am I happy about the 10 percent?" Peckler said. "No. But you can also consider this a flattening at the roundabout that doesn't exist there today."
Another consideration in addition to traffic flow and pedestrian patterns is convenient access to the Snowmass Resort Conoco on the corner of Brush Creek and Kearns roads. The design now allows for cars to turn left into the station from Brush Creek Road and also to make left and right exits on Kearns Road, all of which would have been blocked by medians in the initial design and are crucial to the gas station's viability, according to its owners.
Snowmass Resort Conoco co-owners Jeff Head and Jeff Jandegian are still working with the town on some minor issues, including loss of parking, snow removal and a steep grade on the gas station's Kearns Road entrance, but Head said the new design meets their biggest concerns.
"They've made some major improvements," Head said Wednesday.
Other residents asked questions about pedestrian safety. The intersection sees a lot of foot traffic, and sidewalks and crosswalks are being added to make it safer and more convenient for pedestrians.
One attendee questioned whether the crosswalks would protect pedestrians enough and if an overpass or underpass would work better. Public Works Director Anne Martens has said that the medians included in the design give walkers a refuge as they're crossing the road.
But, while there are some serious obstacles to an underpass, such as underground utilities, Martens said the town is not precluding itself from improving the pedestrian pathways in the future.
"I'm not saying the book is closed," she said.
Bus-stop improvements also are part of the design.
The Related Cos. subsidiary that now owns Base Village is required to build the roundabout as the developer of the project. It must break ground this spring and complete work enough so that drivers can use it by Nov. 1, 2015.
The remaining work to be done will include things like landscaping and beautification. Architect Jim Kehoe said he saw the roundabout as an opportunity to make a statement as people enter the village.
"What a great place to have a piece of art," he said.
Dean Gordon, an engineer hired by the town, said that would be an option if the community desired.
The town took written comments at the open house and will continue to take them through Nov. 7 at http://www.tosv.com.