Carbondale inches forward on Highway 82 underpass |

Carbondale inches forward on Highway 82 underpass

Members of the Carbondale Trails Committee have a big dream for the area southeast of the intersection of Highway 82 and 133.The vision includes a pedestrian bridge over the Roaring Fork River, a whitewater park, and a pedestrian underpass beneath Highway 82.The dream is a long way from reality, but it got a boost Tuesday night when the Carbondale Board of Trustees voted to pay up to $14,000 for a feasibility study for a Highway 82 pedestrian underpass, which would access Red Hill.After the meeting, Mayor Michael Hassig said the study is contingent on no “deal breakers” from the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) precluding a pedestrian underpass. At present, there is only a culvert under the highway.”The question is whether CDOT will be willing to consider our analysis,” Hassig said about the study.For years, mountain bikers and hikers used a narrow concrete underpass to access BLM lands north of Highway 82 on Red Hill.Over the protests of mountain bikers, CDOT replaced the underpass last August with a much smaller steel culvert as part of a Highway 82 guardrail project.At the time, CDOT Highway 82 project manager Ralph Trapani said the five-foot-wide underpass did not meet the department’s pedestrian use standards.”It’s substandard and a significant liability. … We’ve can’t invest resources on a project like that,” he said.A February memo to Carbondale from CDOT resident engineer Karen Rowe said department guidelines call for such a tunnel to be at least 12 feet wide and 10 feet high. She estimated the tunnel could cost $80,000, and said CDOT won’t pay for or maintain it.A memo to the town from OTAK, the planning firm that submitted a bid for the study, said the study would include right of way location, a survey of existing topography, base plan production, field staking, a narrative for pedestrian issues and a final report.”This study is an investment in a future possibility,” Hassig said. “Maybe it won’t work with CDOT, or maybe they’ll be willing to work with the town.”In other business Tuesday night:-The Trustees awarded a $209,000 contract to Earthworks Construction to build an extra downvalley turn lane onto Highway 82 from the Highway 133 bridge.-Approved a special use liquor license to the Carbondale Council on Arts and Humanities for the Carbondale Mountain Fair.-Continued to May 28 a public hearing on a lighting ordinance, which is still being reviewed by the planning and zoning commission.

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