A photo illustration showing cars passing through the intersection of Brush Creek Road and Wood Road in Snowmass Village on Oct. 9, 2014.
A photo illustration showing cars passing through the intersection of Brush Creek Road and Wood Road in Snowmass Village on Oct. 9, 2014. Credit: Jordan Curet / Aspen Daily News

SNOWOMASS VILLAGE – The design of the new Snowmass Village roundabout is evolving to the point where the adjacent business owners’ primary concern appears to have been satisfied.

During a Wednesday afternoon open house in Snowmass Village town council chambers, Jeff Head, co-owner of the Conoco station, said, “We’ve made some major improvements on stuff.”

Topping the list of recent changes to the traffic circle planned for the Brush Creek and Wood road intersection is the option of a left-turn movement into the gas station for vehicles traveling downhill.

“If it’s not convenient for people coming down the hill, once they get past (the station) the sell is gone,” said Head, who owns the station with Jeff Jandegian. Upon leaving the station, vehicles would not be able to make a left- turn back onto Brush Creek Road, but would drive around the roundabout before heading in their desired direction.

Yancy Nichol of Sopris Engineering said this change was made at the station owners’ request. Nichol pointed to a suggestion box that steadily filled with hand-written notes left by attendees as evidence that the design process remains fluid and open.

“As engineers, we’ve tried to listen to the public concerns. Every roundabout in the country has had to be tweaked,” Nichol added.

All told, about 40 interested citizens, elected officials, candidates for office, town staffers and engineers joined the team of development representatives who flowed through the room during the session.

Allison Campbell, a long-time Snowmass Village employee asked, “Why now? Why not wait until after the [Base Village] construction is finished?”

Campbell was told by Nichol and David Peckler, the town’s transportation director, that safety issues are driving the timing of building a roundabout at the town’s busiest intersection.

“I would love to wait to build a roundabout,” Nichol said. “But it’s safety. Someone could get hurt or killed at the intersection.”

Peckler added, “We’re building this road to higher standards” that will withstand the anticipated heavy construction traffic.

Nearby, Snowmass Village Public Works Director Anne Martens explained turning movements, medians and snow melting concepts to Steve Wickes, owner of Sundance Liquor & Gifts in the Snowmass Center. The roundabout will be situated at the top entrance to the Snowmass Center.

Road medians that are slightly raised will still allow for truck turning movements into the gas station, Martens said.

Brush Creek Road will need to be raised by about 5 feet and Kearns Road will have to be lowered by 4 to 5 feet so the roundabout can be built on a flat platform. Construction near BJ Adams’ real estate offices to rework drainage issues could be an improvement in the long run, according to Michael Adams, co-owner of the boutique real estate firm.

“We’ll actually have a little more usable land” when the construction is over, because the bike path will be relocated across Brush Creek Road, Adams said. Brush Creek Road will be raised near the farmhouse building that houses BJ Adams, but to what level is unknown at this time.

Conoco co-owner Jeff Head said he hopes for more positive changes to the roundabout plan, which was submitted to the town Oct. 1 by developer Related Colorado. It’s one of the developer’s nearly two-dozen “milestones” that it agreed to as a condition of the Base Village project’s vesting extension.

The loss of up to seven parking spaces in the Conoco parking lot and a steep driveway proposed to connect the station to Kearns Road are other issues that Head said he feels still need to be addressed.

Another problem that remains to be solved is where to store snow. In the past, plowed snow was pushed across Brush Creek Road into the creek. But the inclusion of road medians and a new bus stop will mean that’s no longer an option for moving the white stuff.

“We’re still working through some of the particulars,” Nichol said. “But I want some of those questions now rather than when it’s built and we go, ‘Now what do we do?’”

Editors note: Madeleine Osberger runs the Snowmass Desk for Aspen Journalism in collaboration with the Aspen Daily News, which published this story on Thursday, Oct. 30, 2014. Follow Osberger on Twitter @Madski99.