The Aspen City Council was presented Tuesday with three options for improving pedestrian/bicycle safety along the Castle Creek bridge.
The first option is to build a new, stand-alone bridge. The second is to shrink the roadway’s lanes and buffers and allow room for a multi-use path. The third is to add on to the existing structure, making it bigger and wider.
Based on previous city projects, Parks Department Director Jeff Woods guessed the new stand-alone bridge could cost in the neighborhood of $4 million to $5 million, while the second, “Band-Aid” option — or shrinking of the roadway — might be in the area of $750,000 to $1 million. He added that there’s potential for outside partners to help fund the first option. No estimates were offered for the third option.
In January, the Castle Creek bridge corridor, from Cemetery Lane to Eighth Street, was identified by parks officials as a critical weakness and safety hazard in the city’s trail system. Loris and Associates, of Louisville, Colorado, has since been contracted for $54,000 to study the best method for improvement.
The company’s president, Peter Loris, said the Colorado Department of Transportation, which owns and maintains the bridge, is hesitant to modify the existing structure, given that it is 51 years old and is nearing the end of its life cycle. According to a memorandum to the council, the bridge has less than 20 years left.
Councilman Adam Frisch described tightening the bridge’s lanes as “the low-cost option that can be done fairly quickly.”
“I think we either need an independent bridge or just kind of tighten it up and give it a go and see if that solves the problem — that’s what I’d prefer, to see us focus on those two points,” he said.
Councilman Dwayne Romero voiced support for the lower-cost option, while Councilwoman Ann Mullins said she is in favor of constructing a new bridge, depending on the price tag.
“If we could find partners for the stand-alone bridge, to me, that would be the best solution,” she said.
Mayor Steve Skadron concurred with Mullins, saying, “It’s exactly the kind of infrastructure this community should be investing in. (Woods), you described it as an elegant and permanent pedestrian solution, and I think that’s the direction we should be going, considering cost, of course.”
Councilman Art Daily was absent.
Senior project manager Tyler Christoff said the next step is two or three open houses, followed by an alternative analysis report and cost estimates. Staff could return to the council for first and second readings possibly this summer or fall, according to Christoff.