Several factors contribute to twice-as-pricey transit center in Snowmass |

Several factors contribute to twice-as-pricey transit center in Snowmass

Design changes, inflation, more precise calculations contribute to spike in project costs

A Snowmass Village Shuttle bus pulls into the Daly Lane bus depot at the Snowmass Mall. A new transit center could eventually replace the depot with a hub for Village Shuttle buses as well as Roaring Fork Transportation Authority service near the entrance to the mall, though costs for that project have doubled from initial projections.
Snowmass Sun/File photo

Snowmass Village officials aren’t exactly thrilled about the latest cost projections for a new transit center on the Snowmass Mall, which have come in at nearly $26.2 million — more than double the original price tag of $13 million.

“A little disappointing” is the phrase Mayor Bill Madsen used at Monday’s Town Council meeting that included an owner’s review of the project. “Overwhelming” was Councilwoman Alyssa Shenk’s description during the discussion. Councilman Tom Fridstein said his confidence was “hugely shaken.”

“Am I happy with the price? No, I’m not. I’m frustrated just like everybody else,” Transportation Director David Peckler said at the meeting.

But with all the “sweat equity” that’s gone into the project already, Peckler and other planners aren’t throwing in the towel — far from it. They are already looking for solutions to cover the gap and cut costs where it’s practical, he said.

But why does it actually cost so much more now? There are a number of factors in play, Peckler said Tuesday in a follow-up phone call.

For one, that $13 million quote was produced back around 2019-20; factor in inflation and the total jumps up a couple of millions.

It was also just an “Opinion of Probable Cost,” a kind of “very rough sketch” calculated based on general, ballpark figures of construction costs that may not have accounted for higher prices in mountain communities like Snowmass Village, Peckler said. The “Rough Order of Magnitude” calculation that produced the $26 million figure uses numbers that are closer to reality with quotes from subcontractors.

Then there are significant design updates from the past two years. Those include the addition of a second story to the building at the heart of the transit hub, relocation of the connecting road between upper Brush Creek Road and lower Carriage Way and expanded scope of the snowmelt system that keeps that road clear. All of those real changes come with real costs attached.

And more advances in the design process also have come with more details on soils in the area and what costs will be associated with building a stable platform.

Altogether, new information, more pricing details and project changes were among the factors that brought that total up so high. Next, it’s time to fill in the gaps through new sources of funding.

Town staff are preparing to apply for a $13.5 million grant from the Federal Transit Administration’s Bus and Bus Facilities Program to make up the gap, town documents indicate.

“I’m going to cross my fingers that Mr, Peckler can write a grant like hell because I know he can,” Town Manager Clint Kinney said at the meeting.