The intersection at Gondola Plaza is set to close for six weeks starting April 21.
As part of a $616,000 pedestrian-safety-improvement project, construction on the intersection of East Durant Avenue and South Hunter Street is expected to last until May 31, though it could extend into the first week of June, said Senior Project Engineer Tyler Christoff. The following Roaring Fork Transportation Authority buses will be rerouted during construction: RFTA inbound buses, Hunter Creek, Mountain Valley Dial-A-Ride and Burlingame/Highway 82. Christoff said gondola operations will not be affected because construction only extends a few feet from the curb on that side. Aspen Mountain’s last full week of skiing and snowboarding ends Sunday. Aspen Skiing Co. has added bonus weekends on April 26 to 27 and May 3 to 4.
“We understand that this is an impact to the public, but we hope that these improvements make a long-term difference in the community, that the six-week duration of the project creates a long-lasting safety impact to that intersection,” Christoff said.
A year ago, the project was estimated around $450,000, though the actual cost approved by the Aspen City Council on April 7 turned out to be $616,000. Christoff said the complexity of the project as well as the demand for construction on the Front Range — a result of last fall’s flooding — drove up the cost of materials and labor.
Construction will take place Mondays through Fridays and occasionally on Saturdays. Improvements include a raised intersection similar to the one outside the Wheeler Opera House, which means an even transition between road and sidewalk; bulb-out expansions to each corner and Gondola Plaza to improve sight disturbances and shorten pedestrian crossing distances; and rain gardens to allow for “green” stormwater management.
Christoff said demolition and reconstruction of the sidewalk will create greater awareness for crossing pedestrians.
“It creates a visual link from Gondola Plaza to the sidewalks on the north side of the intersection,” he said. “The idea is that we try to create walking pathways for pedestrians to follow.”
He added that ramps at the intersection will be brought up to speed with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Additionally, after gathering input from Skico, construction was scheduled for shoulder season, to lessen impact to surrounding businesses.
“Ultimately, we’re hoping that this relatively short-term disruption is going to yield some long-term benefits to the businesses, in terms of safer access for pedestrians,” Christoff said.