Snowmass Village looks to remodel busiest intersection
October 27, 2014
Base Village developer Related Cos. is required to build a roundabout at Snowmass' primary intersection, the junction of Brush Creek, Wood and upper Kearns roads, aimed to help with safety and traffic-flow issues. However, the roundabout affects not just town traffic but also the business owners of the Snowmass Resort Conoco, which was originally supposed to be relocated due to the roundabout project, but Related Cos. no longer owns the property the Conoco sits on.
Related submitted designs for the roundabout to the town on Oct. 1. The town's Public Works Department, engineers and Related have been working with the gas station's owners to ensure that the roundabout still serves its purpose but also impacts the Conoco as little as possible.
To co-owners Jeff Jandegian and Jeff Head, it's extremely important that drivers leaving the Snowmass Village Mall or Base Village can enter the station from Brush Creek Road — meaning a left turn where the designs initially called for a median that would block it.
"I don't care about a left exit," Jandegian said. "That's dangerous."
But the owners believe having convenient entrance points for their customers is crucial to the station, which has been in business there for more than 30 years.
"If we don't get the access points out here that we need, there's a good chance we won't stay in business," Head said.
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Since Related's first submission, the town has altered the design to reduce the size of the medians on Brush Creek and upper Kearns roads, said Public Works Director Anne Martens on Thursday. Martens said turning left out of the station onto Brush Creek Road, where there is limited visibility, can be prevented by signage. Most drivers will understand that their best option is to turn right and go through the roundabout if they want to go that direction, she said.
As of late Thursday, the Jandegian and Head hadn't met with Martens yet to review the changes. Jandegian said that while reducing the sizes of the medians alleviates some of his concerns, he still questioned the impact that adding an entrance to the station's border on Kearns Road would have on his parking.
He also doesn't think it makes sense to direct traffic down the backside of the Snowmass Center, which is a right turn from that planned Kearns Road driveway. He'd prefer his second egress to open right out onto the roundabout.
However, Martens said that a private driveway can't open onto a public roundabout, and having cars turn in at that point would impact a planned pedestrian crosswalk there.
"You can't think about the roundabout as one issue at play," Martens said. "It's how to fit all these things in with the space that you have."
Those elements include the speed and slopes of the roads, geometry, pedestrian activity, safety and bus stations.
To resident Steve Parmelee, adding a walkway on upper Kearns Road is extremely important. He's also concerned about the steep grades that will be created on the road by the roundabout's addition.
"I just want it to be as safe as possible," Parmelee said.
In addition to upper Kearns, sidewalks and crosswalks will be added on both sides of the intersection on Brush Creek Road. The medians on each leg provide a refuge for pedestrians as they cross so that they only have to check traffic one direction at a time, Martens said.
"It's not like the sea of asphalt that's out there right now," she said.
On Wood Road, a crosswalk is planned for a safer location further back from the intersection because there are no medians immediately adjacent to the roundabout.
Parmelee said he thinks the planning process for the roundabout is being rushed. Although it's been discussed for more than 10 years, the plans were just submitted on Oct. 1, and he's concerned that some important issues, including keeping a viable service station in the village, will be overlooked.
"I don't have the answer, but rushing into something is probably not the best idea," Parmelee said.
Other residents feel that the roundabout is long overdue. Mery Butler, a Wood Road resident, said at a council meeting in June that she was tired of not having a safe intersection.
"I want a roundabout, and I want it now," she said.
Adding some credence to the safety concerns, a woman was struck by a vehicle at that intersection on St. Patrick's Day.
And, as part of its new agreements with the town, Related must start construction on the intersection this spring and complete it enough for drivers to use by Nov. 1. Since Related completed much of the utility work on the site last fall, it's realistic that the project will be completed in one construction season, Martens said.
"It is a big impact," Martens said. "However with any construction project you always have impacts. Town (Hall) will be open for business. There will be delays, I anticipate."
The town is holding an open house to discuss the design options on Wednesday. Residents can ask questions or submit comments in writing, which are due by Nov. 7.