Skico mired in a road mess |

Skico mired in a road mess

Jeremy Heiman

The Aspen Skiing Co. seems to be caught between a rock and a soft place.

Worsening problems with deep mud on Little Annie Road are hampering construction traffic headed up Aspen Mountain to the Sundeck construction site and preventing residents in the area from driving home.

The county has ordered the Skico to get the road into drivable shape, but will also require the company to return the road to its former, primitive four-wheel-drive state when the construction project is done.

Wayne Enger, a resident of the upper Little Annie Basin area, said the road was totally impassible Tuesday afternoon, and two of his neighbors were unable to drive home. The road, plowed out before the spring melt-off by the Skico, has been deeply rutted by trucks hauling construction materials to the Sundeck construction project at the top of Aspen Mountain.

The road winds to the top of the mountain on its backside, from Castle Creek Road.

Enger said Wednesday a truck traveling to the construction site to service heavy equipment bogged down so badly its driver could not get through the worst area after four attempts, even with tire chains in place.

Gert Van Moorsel, construction manager for the Sundeck project, said a Little Annie resident contacted Pitkin County Wednesday after having problems getting past the service truck, which was mired in the road, unable to make progress.

Van Moorsel said improvements were made earlier this week to the problem section of the road. Enger said someone drove a grader up the road Tuesday and did some work, but did not address the area where the worst problems exist.

He said the trucks have left two-foot-deep trenches in the road. Part of the problem, Enger said, is that the road is firm in the morning when the mud is frozen, but it thaws later in the day.

“By four or five in the afternoon,” Enger said, “it’s slicker than a pig trough.”

The Skico has put three-quarter-inch gravel on the road at numerous points, but that hasn’t done the trick. Van Moorsel said the county engineering department has given the Skico permission to use larger rock to make the road passable.

County Engineer Bud Eylar said Wednesday the county would hold the Skico responsible both for keeping the road passable for residents and for restoring the road to a primitive state after the project.

If the added gravel runs afoul of the county’s Rural and Remote zoning, which doesn’t allow road improvements, “they’ll have to take it back out next summer,” Eylar said.

Residents on the back of the mountain fought the early plowing, which the county agreed to allow, but now, Enger just wants to see the road passable.

“They’re gonna have to belly up to the buzz saw and do some intense rejuvenation,” he said.

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