CB council approves major street project

Work to begin as soon as next week

By Mark Reaman

A major million-dollar street project in Crested Butte will begin soon and go into the fall. The road project will focus on the east side of Elk Avenue from the Sixth and Elk intersection to the cattle guard east of Ninth Street, along with a section of Eighth Street from Elk Avenue to the concrete pan south of Butte Avenue. The $1.3 million cost of the project sent up red flags to town staff and council who expressed concern about increasing costs to maintain the town streets.

The Elk Avenue work will consist of a “full depth asphalt removal and replacement of the existing roadway.” Some curb and gutter sections will be replaced as well. Additional underground storm water infrastructure will be installed at the intersections of Elk and Sixth, and Elk and Seventh. The giant “recurrent” pothole at the Sixth and Elk Four-way intersection will also be fixed. The Eighth Street work will also consist of a depth asphalt removal and replacement of the existing roadway along with some curb and gutter replacement. 

The Lacy Construction bid of $1,313,748 was slightly lower than a competing bid from Dietrich Dirtworks. The town had asked that the bids be separated between the Elk Avenue project and the Eighth Street project. The Eighth Street work will start first in mid-July while Elk Avenue will see the major work start by early to mid-August. The complete project is anticipated to be finished by October 15.

“The work should start next week and it will be disruptive,” town manager Dara MacDonald told the council at the July 1 meeting. 

“It is a big rebuild project and it will take up the rest of the summer into the fall.”

While originally budgeted for $1 million, council agreed to pick up the rest of the tab by using additional revenue it received through adjustments to the property tax assessments in town. That property tax boost added $357,102 to the 2024 budget that was not expected when the budget was crafted in 2023. 

In a memo to the council from Public Works director Shea Earley, he pointed out that in 2017 the town did similar street work on 14 blocks of roadway for $484,625. “Compare this to the current project where eight blocks of roadway are going to cost $1,313,748,” he wrote. “Based on this information town staff is concerned about maintaining the volume/quantity of improvements within the confines of the current Streets Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) schedule.” 

In other words, the cost of road construction is rising so rapidly, the town is not sure it has enough revenue budgeted to maintain its current maintenance schedule. 

“Costs are increasing tremendously and while property valuations are going up, it is not enough right now to cover the construction costs,” said MacDonald. “The street fund is not keeping up with costs so there will have to be a council discussion at budget time.” 

Councilmember Kent Cowherd asked about a proposed future sewer replacement project for Elk Avenue and MacDonald said that is years away and would take place along Elk Avenue in the main commercial district from First to Sixth Streets.

Council voted 5-1 to award the contract to Lacy Construction and begin the work this month. Councilmember Anna Fenerty voted against the move while councilmember Beth Goldstone was not at the meeting.

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