Aspen one-way plan scrapped
September 9, 2008
ASPEN ” The idea of one-way streets on Park and Midland avenues has been scrapped for now.
The Aspen City Council decided Monday to bail on a proposal to convert Park Avenue from two-way traffic to one-way travel moving southward from the intersection with the short Midland Avenue connector and toward the junction with Highway 82. Midland Avenue, conversely, would have been one-way heading north, away from Highway 82.
Instead, the council directed city engineers to implement on Park and Midland avenues traffic calming measures to reduce speed by vehicles, including Roaring Fork Transportation Authority buses, which several residents say speed down Park Avenue.
Three council members voiced their support in favor of starting with small changes instead of the one-way street approach, which Mayor Mick Ireland favored.
More than two dozen residents who live on both streets came to Monday’s meeting, protecting their turf and pleading with the council not to change the character of the neighborhood or alter their quality of lives.
But for the council, the issue is public safety through the circuit of narrow and congested streets on Aspen’s east side, a result of piecemeal development and improper city planning over many decades.
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“We are stuck with what’s presented to us from the past,” Ireland said of the neighborhood in question, which surrounds the intersection of Park and Midland avenues, bordered by Highway 82 to the south and the Smuggler Mobile Home Park/Centennial area to the north.
The majority of the residents favored leaving the neighborhood as is, arguing that making Park Avenue one-way would negatively impact Midland Avenue by forcing cars onto that road.
“It causes more problems than solutions,” said Midland Avenue resident Greg Mebel.
However, Midland Avenue resident Sara Garton, who walks into town daily, said she favors a one-way loop on a trial basis because the street is dangerous for pedestrians.
“I just see something horrible” happening, she said.
A traffic study of the area, conducted by JR Engineering in consultation with the city’s engineering department, had laid out a number of other options for the area, which the council considered Monday.
The first option was the one-way streets as a temporary experiment, along with speed bumps and other traffic calming measures. That would have cost $60,000.
A permanent one-way street plan with additional sidewalks was another option that would have cost $158,000.
A third option was leaving Park and Midland avenues two-way streets but adding a new sidewalk on the west side of Park. That option would have cost $317,000.
A fourth option was the most expensive at $410,000, and included sidewalks on both sides of the street and keeping Park Avenue a two-way street.
City Councilman Steve Skadron said he would like to see speed bumps and beefed up enforcement in the neighborhood before moving toward more drastic measures.
“I don’t support shifting the burden onto Midland,” he said.
Councilman Dwayne Romero agreed, saying a one-way Park Avenue transplants the problems onto Midland. He also said he supports a sidewalk on the west side of Park Avenue.
Ireland said he doesn’t believe adding deterrents like beefed-up enforcement will stop motorists from speeding. He said he favored a one-way loop and thinks it would not create more traffic on Midland because traffic would have only been traveling in one direction.
“Honestly, I thought the one-way option was best,” he said.