Traffic backups test drivers’ patience | AspenTimes.com

Traffic backups test drivers’ patience

Jennifer Davoren
Aspen Times Staff Writer

The usual traffic snarl at the S-curves started earlier than usual on Tuesday, and a new light near Buttermilk also led to some headaches for commuters.

Road work on the Castle Creek bridge shuttered one lane of Highway 82 between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. Tuesday, and downvalley-bound traffic was led through a slow detour through town. Flaggers stationed on Seventh Street steered downvalley drivers to Smuggler and Power Plant roads, under the bridge to Cemetery Lane and back to the highway.

At one point early Tuesday afternoon, the detour had backed up traffic on Main Street from the S-curves to the Garmisch Street intersection.

Given the proportions of the highway, the traffic problems couldn’t be helped, said Larry Dungan, CDOT maintenance supervisor.

“Unfortunately, with as much traffic as this road gets, and the fact that it’s a two-lane highway,” shutting down one lane paralyzed traffic flow, Dungan said.

Tuesday’s project allowed CDOT crews to patch bridge joints and potential potholes that might grow over the winter, when water freezes and expands cracks in the pavement. The repairs also included noise abatement, Dungan said.

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“The people [living in houses] underneath it have complained about the noise from the traffic hitting the joints on the bridge,” he said.

CDOT wrapped up repairs on the bridge around 3 p.m. yesterday, Dungan said, as required by city officials.

“We actually have a time frame on this highway – we can’t get out before 9 a.m., and we can’t block downvalley traffic after 3 p.m.,” he said.

Drivers coming into town Tuesday hit a snag not far from the bridge. Electricians yesterday worked on the newly activated traffic light at the intersection of Highway 82 and Old Stage Road, which caused problems for some drivers.

Witnesses said the new signal was too much for many motorists to handle. Some vehicles stopped dead in the middle of the highway rather than proceed through the light as usual, backing up traffic as far as the Aspen Business Center.

A third vehicle issue – this time, a parking problem for local businesses – emerged around 1 p.m. yesterday when a water main burst under Bleeker Street. City crews, with the help of two dump trucks from Aspen Earth Moving, blocked off the road between Monarch and Aspen streets in order to tear up a large swath of pavement.

The resulting hole – approximately 8 feet deep and nearly as wide as the street itself – will likely impede traffic for the next few days as crews work to repair the water line. In the meantime, the Red Brick Arts and Recreation Center has a large puddle to deal with on Hallam Street.

[Jennifer Davoren’s e-mail address is jenniferd@aspentimes.com]

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