S’mass council OKs town staff to move forward with Brush Creek and Owl Creek roundabout design

An image showing the operational summaries of different traffic calming measures provided to Town Council.
Courtesy photo/Town Council

After the Snowmass Center walking tour and proposed redevelopment discussion, Town Council OK’d town staff to continue forward with a full-sized roundabout design at the Brush Creek and Owl Creek roads intersection Dec. 2.

In a 3 to 2 decision, council ultimately agreed town staff should use the remaining $180,000 budgeted for the roundabout design to bring it up to a 60% completion level after grappling with the idea of such a large traffic calming measure for about an hour.

The Public Works Department has been working with an engineering firm on the proposed roundabout, estimated to cost roughly $6 million, at the three-way intersection for months in hopes of improving traffic flow and pedestrian safety. The project would be completed in conjunction with various utility updates and culvert improvements, as previously reported.

Leading up to the Dec. 2 decision, council asked for a broader review and improvements of pedestrian crossings at the Brush Creek intersections between Faraway Road and Sinclair Road, which were completed. Locals were also asked to weigh in on the intersections and potential traffic-calming measures through the 2019 community survey, which was presented to Town Council in September.

During the Dec. 2 meeting, staff and council further discussed Brush Creek crossing improvements made via the addition of rapid-flash beacons and the community survey results.

Survey respondents said the Brush Creek Road and Owl Creek Road intersection was their second to least favorite of six Brush Creek road intersections listed when driving a vehicle, and that crosswalks and roundabouts were the top two most acceptable traffic-calming measures.

Anne Martens, the town’s public works director, also went over an operational summary of various traffic calming measures with council, like stop signs and stop lights, showing that the proposed larger roundabout with a slip lane would be best to handle the expected level of traffic in the Village and keep the intersection operating at an “A” level at all times.

Right now, Martens said, the intersection mostly operates below a “C” level, sometimes dipping to an “F” during peak traffic times.

“The smaller roundabout doesn’t provide the elements that we’re looking for,” Martens said to council. “Our concern is it’s going to make things sort of slower but not really what we want.”

But council members weren’t convinced. They expressed concerns with the size of the proposed roundabout, and asked if the town could move forward with both full-sized and smaller roundabout designs.

“It changes the entire feeling of the intersection, it just feels like too much,” Councilman Bob Sirkus said.

However, according to Martens and Town Manager Clint Kinney, the town only had enough funds budgeted to move forward with one design. Martens and Kinney said the full-sized roundabout allowed for the safest, most efficient level of service, and also noted that the town’s operational departments preferred the larger option.

“I’m a fan of the larger roundabout,” said Police Chief Brian Olson to council, noting how well the Wood Road and Brush Creek Road roundabout works. “When we under-build things we pay for it for years to come.”

Town Council ultimately decided to move forward with the full-sized roundabout design plan, assuring that they will be able to make tweaks and better assess the need for the traffic-calming measure once they have a more concrete scale and price for the project.

“I’m a fan of the big roundabout, but if you asked me to put $6 million to $8 million dollars toward a roundabout or employee housing, I’d pick employee housing,” Councilman Bill Madsen said.

Madsen, Mayor Markey Butler and Councilwoman Alyssa Shenk voted for the continued design. Sirkus and Councilman Tom Goode voted against it.

The story was originally published in the Dec. 4 edition of the Snowmass Sun, which hits newsstands every Wednesday. Go to for more coverage.