A few traffic suggestions
December 31, 2007
Unfortunately, Scott Condon failed to discuss the most pressing problem along State Highway 82 in his recent articles regarding mounting congestion plaguing that facility (“Bad news on horizon for expanded Highway 82,” Dec. 27).
By far the section needing earliest attention the is less than two miles through Glenwood Springs. Every gallon of hazardous material and all of the other life sustaining products consummed in the entire Roaring Fork valley are being hauled over Grand Avenue through the heart of the Glenwood Springs business district. The elements are in place for a major tragedy.
Traffic projections for the entrance to Aspen (44,800 in the year 2030) are suspect. Twenty-five years ago peak volumes crossing the Castle Creek bridge exceeded 20,000 a day. Now the article reports an average volume of 28,000. Estimates of future volumes seem to overlook the fact that Aspen is essentially on a dead-end road with no major traffic generators such as large educational facilities or a major industry. Eventually all the $10 million homes that are marketable and all the major hotels will have been built, resulting in a great reduction in labor oriented traffic, a sigificant source of current congestion.
Down the valley it’s a different story. Growth will continue at a high rate, since the area is as desirable as living in Aspen and more affordable.
The four-lane highway is capable of carrying much more than the projected volumes if constraints, such as traffic signals, were eliminated. This could be accomplished by building interchanges at El Jebel, Basalt, Maroon Creek Road, and the Catherine Store.
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Since I have nearly 60 years experience in the highway engineering field, I’m going to be presumptuous and offer the following advice:
1. Spend what money that can be rounded up on improving what you presently have.
2. Eliminate the HOV lanes into Aspen. They are totally inappropriate in their rural setting.
3. Ask proponents of mass transit, especially light rail, how much and who will be expected to pay the operating deficits? That is, of course, assuming the federal government will shoulder most of the construction costs. Each rider will have to be subsidizied by some one (taxpayers) by a sum of from $5 to $10 or more. Phoenix, about to open their light rail is estimating $9 per ride.
4. Support efforts now underway to increase construction funding for our shamefully obsolete rural highway system.