Traffic light to cost Basalt $553,000 |

Traffic light to cost Basalt $553,000

Scott CondonAspen, CO Colorado

BASALT The Basalt town government learned recently that it will cost about $300,000 more than anticipated to install a traffic signal that it promised residents.The town received one bid for $553,337 to install a stop light at the intersection of Highway 82 and Original Road/East Valley Road, in front of the Midvalley Medical Center. A consultant that worked on the design estimated the cost around $263,500.Town Engineer Larry Thompson said there was no one area where the bid far exceeded the estimate. Instead, the high price was a consequence of the skyrocketing cost of doing business in the area.”My assessment is that the abundant availability of construction work in the Roaring Fork and Colorado River valleys, and the resulting demand for services of subcontractors and specialty contractors, is continuing to fuel an escalation of construction costs in our area,” Thompson wrote in a memo to the Town Council.The town budgeted $175,000 for the traffic signal in its 2007 budget and anticipated dipping into reserves to pay for the project. Another $68,700 has been collected from developers of new projects in the area to help with infrastructure expenses.About $21,000 will be necessary for construction inspection and testing, boosting the total project cost to $574,000. The town would have to use about $330,000 from its reserves to install the signal. The staff recommended going ahead with the project rather than seeking new bids.”If staff felt that more favorable bids could be realized by rebidding the project in the near future, we would recommend doing that,” said Thompson’s memo. “However, we have no basis to believe that delaying the project will result in a lower cost.”The council members will be asked Tuesday how they want to proceed. They already signed onto the project after residents of the neighborhood lobbied the board to address the dangerous intersection. About 60 people signed a petition seeking a traffic signal. The council approved a resolution supporting “timely placement” of the traffic signal.In later talks with the Colorado Department of Transportation, Basalt agreed to pay for the light if the state agency undertook the design and engineering.Town Manager Bill Efting said the best way to speed the project along was for the town to pay. CDOT officials approved the signal, but said the project would have to be added to a list of warranted signals in the region if it paid for installation. The timing of state funding was unknown.The intersection has become increasingly busy with traffic from commercial and residential development Basalt approved. A midvalley chiropractic and wellness center will open near the clinic later this year.Basalt’s resolution said CDOT data shows average daily traffic in that area shot up 42 percent from 14,800 vehicles per day in 1996 to 21,600 per day in 2006.The council is scheduled to discuss the issue around 6:15 p.m. Tuesday.Scott Condon’s e-mail address is