Snowmass Transit Center could cost double earlier estimates, more like $26 million |

Snowmass Transit Center could cost double earlier estimates, more like $26 million

Town council will continue review Monday for public transportation hub on Snowmass Mall

A rendering by design firm SEH shows a two-story iteration of the proposed transit center on the Snowmass Mall with the entrance angled toward the corridor next to Gene Taylor's Sports as presented to the Snowmass Village Town Council on July 12.
Town of Snowmass Village/Courtesy image

Next year is supposed to be a big year for the Snowmass Village transit center, a project that would bring a new public transportation hub with easy pedestrian access to the Snowmass Mall.

It’s currently slated to receive $13 million in funding next year, according to the proposed 2022 town budget that’s currently under review; that includes $6 million from the local Elected Officials Transportation Committee, $4.5 million from the state, $500,000 from Roaring Fork Transportation Authority and $2 million from the town’s own coffers.

Here’s the catch: It could cost nearly double what planners initially projected.

The current 2022 budget for the project is based on an “Opinion of Probable Cost” that penciled out about $12 million for the proposal based on conceptual drawings and layout a couple of years ago, according to town documents. (An extra $1 million for contingencies brought the total up to $13 million.)

But the design process has come a long way since those numbers were quoted; the project is now at the 50% design stage and R.A. Nelson is on board as the general contractor.

And R.A. Nelson projects the center could actually cost $26.2 million, including more than $24 million for construction costs and another nearly $2 million for contingencies and fees, according to a mid-September cost estimate summary included in this week’s town council packet. The general contractor reviewed the plans and worked out a “Rough Order of Magnitude” cost projection last month.

Town Council is slated to discuss the transit center and that whopping price tag at Monday night’s regular meeting, when both the 2022 budget and another round of owner’s review on the transit center are on the agenda.

(An owner’s review is different from a land use review; the former is an opportunity to provide feedback on the design from the perspective of “the owner” — in this case, the town, weighing in how the center looks and fits with the character of the town — whereas the latter is a legal process that will ensure the design meets town codes and regulations.)

That $26 million is a whole lot more dough than council members had in mind at the last owner’s review during a council work session on July 12, when the focus of the conversation was mostly about balancing the form and aesthetics of the building with its functions. But the new cost estimates won’t be a total surprise to the council; Town Manager Clint Kinney gave council a heads up that project costs had doubled during a project update with transportation director David Peckler at a regular council meeting on Sept. 20.

It’s unlikely that project costs will get any lower moving forward, according to an agenda summary for the transit center discussion slated for Monday. Staff and planners had hoped that a followup cost estimate and updated designs from the past month might produce numbers that would be at least a little easier to digest than the $26 million figure quoted in September, but that doesn’t seem to be the case, town documents indicate.

“Unfortunately, as the detailed designs continued to be developed and the project went ‘to market’ for true bid estimates, the cost did not go down,” the agenda summary states. “The construction cost actually remained similar, but with the addition of contingency accounts and other real costs, the overall construction budget increased.”

Town staff and planners will continue to work to find ways to keep costs in check, but with the designs already halfway to final, it’s unlikely that the overall concept will see significant changes, according to town documents.

“In order (for) this project to proceed and go under contract for construction, significant additional funds would need to be found and approved,” the agenda summary states.

Those funds could include more grants to supplement the existing monies that the state and other local agencies are chipping in; town staff are gearing up to apply for a $13.5 million grant from the Federal Transit Administration’s Bus and Bus Facilities Program to cover the difference, town documents indicate.