Pitkin County officials are expected to unveil updated designs and cost estimates this week for a proposed one-mile trail that would run parallel to Castle Creek Road, between Aspen Country Day School and Marolt Trail.
Discussion of what’s being called the Castle Creek Trail is set for a work session that starts at noon Tuesday at the county administration building. In addition to county commissioners, members of the county’s Open Space and Trails Board will be present.
The stated purpose for the one-mile trail is to provide safer access to housing and public transportation for Aspen Country Day School and Aspen Music School students who share the same location. Improved safety for cyclists and others who use the busy corridor near Aspen Valley Hospital and the Marolt affordable-housing development also has been cited. The project has been in the planning stages for more than a decade.
The trail is a joint effort between Pitkin County and the city of Aspen, but the county’s open space department is overseeing the initiative. About 80 percent of the trail would be located in the county with the remainder falling within city boundaries. On May 20, the Aspen City Council approved an intergovernmental agreement, also known as an IGA, that formalizes its commitment to the project.
An original cost estimate of $3.8 million dropped to $2.6 million early last fall due to design changes. A new cost estimate is expected to be presented to commissioners on Tuesday, but may be less than $3 million. Gould Construction is the contractor while SGM Inc. is handling designs.
According to a city memorandum relating to the IGA, the city’s contribution won’t exceed $875,000. The city already has contributed $125,000 toward planning and design and its 2019 budget earmarks $750,000 for its share of remaining design work and construction.
In September, plans called for a 6-foot-wide trail to be built aside the downhill lane, or east side, of Castle Creek Road, including a buffer zone between the road and the trail to provide additional safety. The road shoulder along the uphill lane, or west side, would be widened to between 3 and 4 feet to accommodate recreational cyclists, such as those who may be riding toward Ashcroft. The east-side trail was expected to accommodate both cyclists and pedestrians.
Gary Tennenbaum, the county’s open space director, could not be reached for comment. His memo in preparation for Tuesday’s meeting contains no new details about design changes or cost estimates.
Austin Weiss, the city’s parks and open space director, said Sunday that he plans to meet with county staff and representatives of the two companies today to go over the latest changes and costs in preparation for Tuesday’s work session.
“There’s very little change in the overall design of the trail,” Weiss said. “It’s still on the creek side of the road. There was some exploratory [work] to look at the condition of the road bed and that’s caused some minor tweaking.”
Weiss said one design change involves separation from Castle Creek Road near the Marolt Trail. “We have more room that’s going to allow us to get about 5 feet of separation between the road and the trail itself, which will be nice. The remainder of the trail is still attached to the road, but as we get closer to Marolt Trail, we’ll be able to peel away from it,” he said.
The project, which underwent an extensive public vetting process, is expected to involve the removal of dozens of trees. Construction is expected to begin sometime this summer. No starting date was identified in city or county documents.
Last fall, Tennenbaum said the trail could possibly be extended on its southern end in the not-too-distant future. Short-term plans also call for increased safety signage and traffic-calming devices along the corridor.