After months of detours and delays, a new pedestrian underpass at the Aspen Business Center is proving to be the safer option area residents wanted to cross Highway 82.
When the underpass opened on Dec. 24, it gave people who access the business center an alternative to using the “at grade” crosswalk that goes across the highway leading to and from Aspen.
Kathy Boyden lives in El Jebel and takes a bus to work at the business center.
“I have to cross the highway every day I come to work,” Boyden said. “Using the new underpass is definitely safer than crossing at the ABC intersection. I think the project is a great thing for this neighborhood.”
The underpass and the two new bus-rapid-transit stations are now fully functioning but not 100 percent complete.
All of the underpass concrete is architecturally finished with some detailing remaining. The electrical systems also need to be finished, with Flatiron Construction, the contractor for the project, providing temporary lighting until the project is completed.
The underpass also has some wall fencing, handrails and stairs that need completion. The bus stations still need electronic signage and the ticket vending machines and the WiFi systems need to be installed.
This spring, Flatiron will do the final backfill, grading and landscaping around the underpass as well as stain the underpass and the walls around it. It also will reconstruct the median on Highway 82.
County Engineer G.R. Fielding said once the project is completed, the business center crosswalk will be removed.
“The skiers may not like the high-pressure ridge that’s giving us a break from the snow,” Fielding said. “But the Flatiron workers love it. We’re excited to see them out here still working. They’re doing a good job, considering all the tricky architectural features they’re dealing with.”
Fielding said many people naturally will compare the business center underpass to the one at Willits Town Center in El Jebel.
“The ABC underpass is a little taller and wider than the Willits underpass,” he said. “It also has a lot more infrastructure, like access trails and electrical work.”
Fielding is encouraging people to use the business center underpass as it’s a safer crossing and quicker than waiting for the traffic light on Highway 82.
“There’s no potential vehicle conflict,” Fielding said. “People are still walking right through our “crosswalk closed” signs and using the Highway 82 crosswalk. We have some new signs that should be up, hopefully in two weeks, that will direct people to the underpass. We’ll also have the sidewalks cleared to make it easier to access the underpass.”
Fielding said that not only will the underpass eliminate a lot of jaywalking, but once the crosswalk light is eliminated, commuters will get through the intersection more quickly.