The Elected Officials Transportation Committee moved plans for the $4.2 million Brush Creek Park and Ride project forward on Thursday by reallocating $70,000 in matching funds to satisfy federal grant requirements and making a few decisions related to design, functionality and security at the facility.
Construction on the park-and-ride project, which will rely on $2.2 million from the Federal Lands Access Program, is expected to begin in 2021. The purpose of FLAP grants is to improve transportation facilities that are located near or within federal lands.
The Brush Creek bus-transfer facility and parking lot, formerly known as the “intercept lot,” is now officially called a “park-and-ride” under the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority’s network of public-transit stops. Officials hope that improvements at the Brush Creek facility will encourage more locals and visitors to take public transit to and from Aspen in lieu of driving vehicles and further burdening the city’s limited highway and parking capacity.
Outreach for the project began earlier this year, and included an open house in April and a public survey in May. The survey of 80 Roaring Fork Valley residents showed that 45 percent use the lot “occasionally.” Issues they identified with the facility include the perception of safety problems, a lack of desired bus connections, the presence of portable bathrooms, a lack of cleanliness and people using the lot to camp, according to a memorandum to EOTC members from regional transportation administrator David Pesnichak.
The project aims to build permanent restrooms as well as water and wastewater systems. It will increase the lot’s paved areas, add charging stations for electric vehicles, improve security through better lighting and create landscaping features to make the facility more attractive.
At Thursday’s meeting, the EOTC, which is made up of Pitkin County commissioners and council members from Aspen and Snowmass Village, gave direction to Pesnichak on the following planning matters:
- Keep an “open” design for the special-events area. Previously, the EOTC decided on a mid-station location for the park-and-ride’s permanent restrooms. The location of the restrooms allows for the design of a special events/information booth area that can be used for gatherings or as a rest area. “The space can be utilized during special events where an area is needed to disseminate information and/or conduct other event functions (e.g. registration area for a bike or running event),” the memo says. Design options for the special-event area included open, covered or partially enclosed. EOTC members opted for the open-air design, partly because it was the least expensive alternative. The space can be covered or partially enclosed at a later date if a change is deemed necessary or funds become available.
- Install an in-pavement snow-melt system through the high-traffic corridors of the restroom platform, as well as crosswalks to the bus platform. In the memo, snow removal is described as a “constant battle” at facilities such as Brush Creek. RFTA currently operates an in-pavement snow-melt system on the Brush Creek bus platform. “The snow-melt system enhances the safety and usability of the facility and thereby encourages transit use,” the memo states.
- Install solar panels to capture as much energy as possible atop the restroom building. The possibility of ground-mounted solar panel clusters, to increase the amount of solar generation beyond what can be achieved on the rooftop, will be discussed at a future meeting.
- Consider the use of cameras throughout the restroom platform. RFTA currently has cameras in use on its bus platform. Though the cost of installing and maintaining such a system on the restroom platform is considered high and may not be covered by FLAP funds, EOTC members recommended further study on the issue. They also recommended consideration of call boxes throughout the parking area and the restroom platform, with a direct link to the sheriff’s office, as an added security element.
In a separate but related discussion, EOTC members agreed on a location for an 8-by-18-foot “dynamic message sign” that will provide motorists with information on travel times to Aspen and Snowmass Village as a way of steering them to use the park-and-ride during heavy traffic periods. The sign will be located on Highway 82, one mile downvalley from the park-and-ride. An alternate location would be 2.2 miles downvalley from the facility. The cost of the sign and its travel-time monitoring system is estimated to be $546,000.