Town: Roundabout still best option for Snowmass road |

Town: Roundabout still best option for Snowmass road

While a roundabout planned for Brush Creek Road in Snowmass is not perfect, it is the best solution to ensure traffic flow at that intersection in the future, town staff members told the village’s elected officials Monday.

The roundabout, long envisioned for keeping cars moving through the Brush Creek intersection with Kearns and Wood roads as the town grows, has come under fire recently from residents who see it as unnecessary and detrimental to the Snowmass Resort Conoco’s business. But in a work session Monday, Transportation Director David Peckler assured the council that the roundabout was still needed, possibly even moreso today, with about 30 percent more skiers and snowboarders visiting Snowmass on a regular basis.

“The roundabout idea was not only what can we do here, but what can we do with the amount of traffic we see in the future,” Peckler said. “You’re making investments today to get you 20 or 30 years (into the future).”

Traffic engineers rate roads and intersections for their level of service, and the town aims to maintain a level C, which is stable flow with some congestion, according to Public Works Director Anne Martens.

Right now, that congestion only occurs during peak times and days such as Ski School pickup time and holiday weeks. However, it’s often occurring at intersections other than the one in question, such as at Lower Carriage Way and Wood Road.

When the council asked why that crossroad wasn’t coming under the microscope as well, Town Manager Clint Kinney responded that it did need to be considered, but the roundabout would help ensure that the other doesn’t also reach that level of congestion.

And the two are connected, said Snowmass Village Police Chief Brian Olson. When officers directed traffic to help cars turning left off Carriage Way during the holidays, he said it immediately created congestion where the roundabout is planned as well as at the parking garage, which held up Village Shuttle buses.

Pedestrian crossings are another important factor at the intersection. Most pedestrian-vehicle accidents occur when the driver is making a left turn, which never occurs in a roundabout, and roundabouts force motorists to slow down, Peckler said.

However, the biggest potential for an accident with the new design is where drivers can make left turns out of the Conoco, Peckler said. Medians were initially going to block left turns from the station, but the owners asked to keep that option open for their customers coming from the village core.

“To protect the interests of the business, we’re thinking that it’s going to be a pretty low-traffic volume that maneuvers that turn,” Peckler said.

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