ASPEN - City Council members on Tuesday directed city staff to explore the cost and feasibility of a 14 mph speed limit in Aspen's West End as a way of discouraging motorists from cutting through the neighborhood to avoid congestion on Highway 82 near the S-curves.
Residents have said that traffic-calming measures the city previously implemented in the West End, such as bollards, haven't completely deterred fast drivers in the area, which currently enjoys a 25 mph speed limit - the same as Main Street. Bollards, thin posts fixed to the middle of the road, were set up on West Smuggler Street last year.
Other measures the city has undertaken in recent years include, but are not limited to: bollards along Bleeker and Hallam streets; free bus service between Aspen and the Brush Creek Intercept Lot near the Snowmass Village turnoff at Highway 82; funding of the Cross Town Shuttle transit route; increased Aspen police patrols in the area; coordination with various organizations using the Aspen Meadows campus for summer events; increased parking enforcement; and additional stop signs.
Some of those measures have helped reduce traffic issues in the West End, officials said during Tuesday's council work session. But residents still are complaining, saying that even 17 mph is much too fast for the residential area.
Mayor Mick Ireland suggested an 18 mph limit because the number is out of the ordinary for a speed limit and will attract a driver's attention. After further discussion, council members decided to drop the proposed limit down to 14 mph.
City staffers also were directed to explore the possibility of adding speed bumps and more intersections with four-way stops various areas of the West End.
City Engineer Trish Aragon estimated that 60 new speed-limit signs at slightly less than $500 per sign would cost more than $27,000. City Attorney Jim True told council members not to worry about potential legal challenges to the super-low speed limit, saying he believes it to be "clearly enforceable."
"We are still receiving complaints about speeding," Aragon said. "Although from an engineering perspective, we don't see that they're speeding. But the perception still is that vehicles are speeding through the neighborhood."
She said that despite a city-conducted "speed study" showing that the average driver is traveling less than 25 mph on West End streets, residents still say there is a problem.
"They still say, 'We don't care what this shows; they're still going too fast, in our view.' That's what the community has told us," Aragon said.