Work starts in April on two Roaring Fork Valley underpasses |

Work starts in April on two Roaring Fork Valley underpasses

Construction of a roughly $1.9 million pedestrian underpass of Highway 82 in the midvalley is scheduled to get under way this week and preliminary work on a $5.4 million project, including an underpass, also will start in April at the Aspen Airport Business Center.

A short detour of the downvalley-bound lanes in front of Whole Foods Market at Willits Town Center is scheduled to begin Tuesday, according to a representative of Gould Construction, the general contractor on the project. Detours on the upvalley-bound lanes are scheduled to begin Wednesday, he said. Those projected dates are weather-dependent.

The detour lanes were constructed last fall just off either side of the highway. They are designed to avoid traffic stops and minimize delays. Traffic will still be affected because the speed limit will be reduced to 35 mph in the detour area, according to the town of Basalt.

Traffic was originally scheduled to be directed onto the detours earlier than April 2 and 3, but delays were encountered.

The underpass is tied to construction of new bus stations for Roaring Fork Transportation Authority’s expansion. New stations will be built on the downvalley and upvalley sides of the highway, in front of Whole Foods. The original cost of the project was $1,729,416 for the underpass and sidewalks from the underpass to the bus stations. The price increased by $175,000 after final design, according to town of Basalt engineer Larry Thompson.

Willits Town Center developer Mariner Real Estate Management agreed to pay $910,000 and the town $500,000 in the original agreement. Thompson said RFTA is paying approximately $320,000 for the sidewalks connecting the stations to the underpass. The Town Council voted last winter to absorb the extra $175,000 unveiled by the final design.

RFTA is responsible for building the bus stations. No estimate is available yet for the cost of the stations and associated work, said Angela Kincade, RFTA’s assistant project manager. Similar stations have ranged between $230,000 and $275,000 each.

Commuters can expect snarls because of the Aspen Airport Business Center work. The speed limit on Highway 82 will be reduced from 50 to 35 mph in the area of construction.

The first phase of the project will be relocating underground utilities. It will take four to six weeks. During that time, the section of the Airport Service Road from the main airport entrance to the carpool kiosk will be reduced to one lane. The construction site will be fenced off, so pedestrians will be unable to cross the highway at any point except at the stop light.

Kincade said the designs and components of the two underpass projects are vastly different and don’t lend themselves to an apples-to-apples comparison on price.

At the Willits underpass, precast sections of the underpass are scheduled to be installed during April. Traffic will be moved back to the regular highway path in May and work will continue on the ends of the underpass. The project will be completed in June with work taking longer on the stations, according to the town of Basalt.

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