Upvalley lanes nearly ready | AspenTimes.com

Upvalley lanes nearly ready

The commute through Snowmass Canyon will switch to the new, upvalley lanes sometime in mid- or late October, according to the Colorado Department of Transportation’s engineer in charge of the widening project.

Although the official switch-over date has yet to be decided, CDOT’s Ed Archuletta said his best guess is Oct. 17. He pointed out, however, that that date was subject to change.

Crews have been paving the road surface between the water tank in the middle of the canyon and the Snowmass Conoco station at the bottom of the canyon for a week and a half. Archuleta said the paving was on schedule to be finished yesterday.

Over the next few weeks, crews from Ames Construction and their subcontractors will be painting stripes on the new highway, finishing grading and planting along the roadside and performing other tasks needed to open the road.

An open house and tour of the new lanes is planned for Oct. 7.

Once the switch is complete, crews will begin tearing up the old highway lanes.

Logistical planning for that portion of the project is already under way. Archuleta is scheduled to meet with emergency management teams in Aspen today to discuss plans for serving the handful of homes that are located in the canyon between Highway 82 and the Roaring Fork River.

There will be times during the construction when emergency service providers will only be able to access those homes from one direction, so coordination and advance planning is important.

Eventually, two lanes of downvalley traffic will replace the old highway.

Work on the overall widening project is running about a year ahead of schedule. A $500,000 reward is in the offing if the contractor can finish the work by November 2004.

“We’re doing well,” Archuleta said of the pace of work. “We’re fortunate the job is going as well as it has.”

[Allyn Harvey’s e-mail address is aharvey@aspentimes.com]

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