Pitkin County commissioners agreed to temporarily provide $1.5 million to begin the construction of an underpass linking the Aspen Airport Business Center with the airport and new bus stops in a work session on Tuesday.
Those funds will likely be reimbursed by a grant from the Colorado Department of Transportation’s (CDOT) FASTER funds by Feb. 21, said Brian Pettet, director of Pitkin County public works. The county applied for the grant and CDOT has indicated that it will likely fund the project, but until that happens, the county will move some money from its reserves so that construction can move forward, he said. The contract securing the additional county funds would not be signed until CDOT ensures that the county is receiving the FASTER grant, Pettet said.
“It’s a cash-flow issue,” he said.
Construction of the underpass will cost $3 million, of which the county has committed to paying $500,000. The Elected Officials Transportation Committee (EOTC) is contributing $1 million and the rest of the funds are planned to come from the CDOT grant.
The hope is to begin construction on the underpass in April and have the project completed by September, Pettet said. Before that can happen, an intergovernmental agreement (IGA) between the county and the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority (RFTA), which will manage the project, needs to be completed, Pettet said. The project also needs to get environmental clearances for construction near the airport, he said. Those items will hopefully be completed before April 1, Pettet said.
County officials will also undertake an advertising campaign in an effort to inform the public of potential traffic delays that will occur over the summer, he said. The plan is to maintain four lanes on the stretch of Highway 82 surrounding construction, but there will likely still be delays, Pettet said.