Snowmass roundabouts to be under construction
Snowmass Village residents are gearing up for traffic impacts from not one, but two roundabouts being built in the heart of town this summer.
Work began last week on the long- anticipated roundabout at the intersection of Brush Creek, Wood and Kearns roads, a key crossing in the village. While the four-wy crossing will never fully close during construction, there will be traffic impacts at the intersection, a mandatory thoroughfare for anyone going up to the mall, Base Village or any residential neighborhoods uphill.
Dirt work is currently being done in preparation for building retaining walls and for lowering the utilities running underneath the site. Upper Kearns Road is currently operating as a one-way street and is an exit only at the upper end. But Town Hall, the Snowmass Center and the Conoco gas station can all still be accessed by car, as will be the case throughout the initial phase of construction.
The project is being phased to avoid ever fully closing the roundabout and to mitigate traffic impacts, said Travis Elliott, assistant to the town manager. One of the most significant impacts will happen during the third phase, scheduled for August to September.
“At one point, when they’re doing grading and utility work on the upvalley side of the roundabout, they will need to close Brush Creek Road for short periods of time,” Elliott said. “We’re trying to keep those closures down to one week at a time, but of course, Carriage Way will be open during those times so that will be available as a detour.”
And when the medians and islands are being installed, the intersection will operate like a four-way stop, with traffic stopping intermittently in all directions.
The owners of the Snowmass Resort Conoco are glad the dirt work and widening of Brush Creek Road is happening early on in the process, “while there’s no business anyway,” said co-owner Jeff Jandegian. Jandegian said the construction may cut off some access for the station, the only private property bordering the new roundabout, but the station won’t be unique in that.
“It’s going to impact business for everyone,” he said.
A long time coming
Jandegian and his partner Jeff Head strongly opposed the roundabout last year, launching an informal petition to stop its construction and speaking out at Town Council and other public meetings. The roundabout was part of the original Base Village approvals in 2004, when it was envisioned that the gas station would relocate to another site in the village. Since then, however, the men have bought their property, and while they saw the roundabout as unnecessary, they primarily were fighting to protect their access points from Brush Creek Road.
While early designs moved one of their driveways to Kearns Road, the final plan has both staying just about in their same locations, and Big Jeff and Little Jeff are satisfied with the outcome, Jandegian said.
Jandegian and Head weren’t the only residents to oppose the roundabout. Many of the locals who signed their petition were showing support for the longtime business, but they were also voicing opposition to a piece of infrastructure they don’t see as needed. The roundabout was included in the original Base Village plans to mitigate a predicted increase in traffic due to the new development.
But more than 10 years later, many residents don’t see the hike in traffic as anticipated, and point out that the worst backup Snowmass experiences during high season is at the stop sign at the bottom of Carriage Way. But a study commissioned by the Snowmass Acquisition Co., the Related subsidiary now developing Base Village, and reviewed by the town showed that a roundabout would best improve traffic flow, still expected to increase when new construction begins again.
Not one, but two
However, town staff members and elected officials took the point about Carriage Way to heart, and now a mini-roundabout at that site is also required in the new Base Village development agreements. That infrastructure work is expected to start sometime in the next couple of weeks and will take about six weeks to complete, said Related’s Craig Monzio.
Related is required to build both roundabouts, although the town contributed $800,000 toward the larger one. That project is expected to cost a total of $4.3 million.
The new Base Village development agreements mandate that the roundabouts must be functionally complete in time for ski season. Landscaping and asthetic touches will be completed next year.