Future of Basalt underpass concrete | PostIndependent.com

Future of Basalt underpass concrete

Two pedestrians scramble acorss Highway 82 at Basalt Avenue Jan. 28 to catch their bus. The traffic signal was taking an unusually long time to cycle. Basalt aims to build a pedestrian underpass there.
Gary Tennenbaum/Courtesy photo |

With its approval of a construction bid Tuesday night, the Basalt Town Council secured the future of a Highway 82 underpass scheduled to break ground this spring.

After a financial commitment from Pitkin County was approved by commissioners Tuesday, Basalt elected officials at their meeting were able to unanimously approve a $6.2 million bid from contractor United Companies to complete the work. Construction can start within 45 to 60 days, and the project must be completed by October 2017, said Town Manager Mike Scanlon.

“It’s going to be a bit of a mess for a while,” said Mayor Jacque Whitsitt on Wednesday. “But it will be here before long.”

First dreamt up in 2004, the underpass has been a council priority because of the high volume of pedestrian crossings at the intersection of Highway 82 and Basalt Avenue, the main access point to historic Basalt from the highway. A major upvalley bus stop and park-and-ride lot are located on the south side of the intersection, across the highway from the Valero gas station/Basalt Store. There also is substantial foot traffic due to Basalt High School’s location on the south side.

“It’s wonderful because that has had everyone’s nerves on end for a while,” Whitsitt said.

While there has been some debate in the past about specifics of the project, the underpass is largely supported by both elected officials and the community. In fact, in a Basalt election Q&A published in Wednesday’s Aspen Times, both mayoral candidates and all six council candidates said they supported it.

The approval comes just in the nick of time, too — the town had to accept a bid by April 1 in order to retain funding promised by the Colorado Department of Transportation. The project was sent out for a second bidding process earlier this year after quotes collected in 2015 started at $2.1 million higher than town estimates.

With non-construction related costs, the total cost for the project is now about $7.17 million, Scanlon said. Basalt is footing the bulk of the bill with a $2.9 million contribution. Other entities contributing are the county, CDOT, Elected Officials Transportation Committee, Roaring Fork Transportation Authority, and a nonprofit called “Safe Routes to School.”


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