Son of Worm Hole returns to Basalt |

Son of Worm Hole returns to Basalt

Aspen Times Staff Report

Commuters nostalgic for the days of the “worm hole” on the east end of the Basalt bypass are sensing a bit of deja vu this week.

A repaving project has brought back the midvalley’s all-too-familiar traffic jams during the morning commute. Creeping traffic has hampered firefighters, angered commuters and altered the patterns of some drivers trying to get ahead by a car length or two.

The delays are expected to continue through mid-October while the Colorado Department of Transportation reconstructs the two upvalley or eastbound lanes over a three-mile stretch of the bypass.

CDOT hired Elam Construction to tear up the old pavement, build a new road bed and pave the highway from mile marker 20 to mile marker 23.

The two downvalley lanes are handling all the traffic, with one lane open in each direction. The speed limit is 45 mph through the detour.

On the first two weekdays of the detour, traffic was backed up halfway back to El Jebel from Basalt where the two eastbound lanes pinched down to one.

Unfortunately for the Basalt and Rural Fire District, it has had to send equipment through the thick of the morning crunch both days.

“To be honest with you, we had to run the truck up the oncoming lane,” acting Fire Chief Scott Thompson said Tuesday.

The fire department responded to a minor accident between Basalt and El Jebel Tuesday morning. The crews learned from experience Monday that staying in the proper lane and trying to get other vehicles to move in the construction zone was next to impossible.

Fire engines and ambulances responded to the scene of a structure fire near Norrie Colony on Frying Pan Road about 28 miles from Basalt at about 6:30 a.m. Crews responding from El Jebel found that traffic on Highway 82 was already snarled at that hour.

Commuters throughout the morning rush have tried to get around some of the traffic jam by turning onto Willits Lane, only to find that scores of other drivers are attempting the same maneuver.

A press release from CDOT said the repaving of the bypass will be limited to the upvalley lanes. The mid-October completion hinges on good weather.

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