Mountain Town Roundup: Pitkin County OKs airport runway extension
ASPEN – Extension of the Aspen-Pitkin County Airport runway won unanimous approval last week from Pitkin County commissioners following a lengthy discussion of the project’s merits.
Commissioners concluded that adding another 1,000 feet on the south, or upvalley, end of the runway would improve the efficiency of commercial operations at the airport and could improve safety, as well.
Several pilots told commissioners a longer runway will improve safety, while other citizens said the resort will benefit from the project if it means the airlines are able to fill more seats at times when weight restrictions now force them to leave seats empty.
The lengthened runway, from roughly 7,000 to 8,000 feet, would allow 244,000 passenger enplanements in 2012 – 15,016 more than would be possible with the same number of flights on the constrained runway, according to an analysis based on expected demand. The difference grows to more than 19,000 additional passengers by 2027, according to projections.
Those numbers were the subject of plenty of debate however.
Ellen Anderson, the county’s emergency incident commander, reiterated her fear that the extension will increase the risk of an airplane crash at Buttermilk Ski Area, immediately south of the airport. Airport officials have said the project doesn’t change that risk one way or the other.
A grant application for FAA funding for the project is due July 28. The FAA will fund 95 percent of the estimated $17.5 million project with money from taxes it collects on fuel, airfare and freight. The airport will fund the rest out of its revenues.
Before the project can proceed, however, the city of Aspen and Buttermilk Metropolitan District must reach an agreement to serve 77 nearby homes. Wells that currently serve the metro district, on the south end of the airport, will be capped as part of the project.
– The Aspen Times
EDWARDS – Ask if the Edwards roundabout project is on schedule, and the answer will be “which part?”
Jody Randall, the project’s public information officer, said pieces and parts of the project have been moved around on the construction calendar. That means some jobs are, technically, behind schedule while others are ahead.
Overall, though, the project is still on track to be finished by Nov. 19 or thereabouts.
The project, which will put four roundabouts around Edwards’ Interstate 70 interchange, was funded by the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act, the multi-billion-dollar federal “stimulus” plan passed in early 2009.
The Edwards project was funded largely because a complete set of plans already existed, Randall said. Eagle County and the Edwards Metropolitan District funded those plans.
– Vail Daily
ASPEN – City Council began reviewing a proposed expansion of Aspen’s special events and marketing budget to fund more projects Monday.
The events include an anticipated partnership with LIVESTRONG, the cancer awareness organization founded by Lance Armstrong, that would benefit the 2011 Aspen Cycling Festival.
In a letter to event staff, LIVESTRONG development director Nicholas Denby expressed excitement about “the level of enthusiasm that already exists” among city staff, referring to conversations between the organization and event planning staff.
The letter outlines a possible new event during the festival, an Aspen backcountry marathon, which would come with a $28,300 price tag, according to the application that will go before the council today at its 5 p.m. work session.
Conversations between the city and LIVESTRONG are in the budding stages, and no decisions have been made, the application says.
The application also requests $5,000 to add a street festival to the event, as well as the same amount for a new Latino festival.
Several other event options were weighed as part of a drive to boost the number of special events in Aspen, including a car collector auction, an art auction and a professional bicycle race.
– The Aspen Times
CRESTED BUTTE – The head office of the U.S. Forest Service is backing up the overall decision and process by two foresters to not allow ski lifts on Snodgrass Mountain as requested by Crested Butte Mountain Resort. But he clarified that the agency must inform CBMR how skiing can be accommodated on Snodgrass or take the mountain out of its skiing permit boundary in the Forest Plan – a move that would likely require a National Environmental Policy Act review.
Forest Chief Tom Tidwell and his reviewing officer, Gloria Manning, announced last week that his office supports the course of action and ultimate rejection of lifts on Snodgrass that took place by Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison National Forest Supervisor Charlie Richmond and the appeal reviewing officer Jim Pena of California.
“I am affirming the (Pena’s) appeal decision,” the letter from the chief’s office states.
It also says “the Forest Supervisor was not required to conduct environmental analysis to support his decision.”
The top administrators were concerned by one element of the decision. “I am troubled by the Forest Supervisor’s finding in his decision letter that “it is not in the public interest to continue to consider development on Snodgrass Mountain any further,” the letter states. “The finding as stated appears to reflect a conclusion about the suitability of Snodgrass Mountain for any skiing development, rather than just for the proposal made by CBMR.”
– The Crested Butte News
JACKSON HOLE, Wyo. – Jackson Town Councilors are scheduled to discuss whether to move forward with research to determine whether a “pay-as-you-throw” program could feasibly be applied to trash collection in the valley.
Staff from the county solid waste and recycling department shared research that indicates “the single most effective action” to increase trash diversion away from landfills is to create such a variable rate system.
If implemented, the amount of money residents would pay for trash collection likely would be based on the amount of trash set out for pick-up.
Pricing options include setting price differentials for various sizes of garbage cans, establishing a bag purchase system, creating a system based on weight, or a combination of several of these options.
The idea behind the concept is that higher fees will encourage residents to focus more on recycling, composting and source reduction to keep down their trash bills.
– Jackson Hole News
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