Aspen council OKs $305K to help with summer traffic woes |

Aspen council OKs $305K to help with summer traffic woes

Work on roundabout, Highway 82, Castle Creek Bridge will start in April, last into September

A summer project will close Castle Creek Bridge and parts of Highway 82 as updates are made. (Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times)

Aspen City Council agreed on Tuesday to spend $305,000 to help ease the pain for motorists and residents from the effects of construction on Highway 82 this spring, summer and fall at the entrance to Aspen.

The bulk of the added expenditures are for traffic control flaggers and extra buses to help move people and cars through the corridor and side streets as expeditiously as possible.

The mitigation measures are to address delays because of significant road work, which will run from April to September, by the Colorado Department of Transportation from the Airport Business Center to the Castle Bridge.

The first project, the roundabout, will begin in April and last until the end of June and involves replacing the asphalt with concrete so that the roadway doesn’t give out as quickly and potholes are fewer and far between.

During construction of that project, there will be a single lane open in each direction, and bus traffic will join the general-purpose lane just outside of the roundabout, according to city engineers.

To mitigate major backups, flaggers will be on site to prioritize one leg of the roundabout if necessary. CDOT will continually work with Aspen staff to assess the use of flaggers that meets the needs of the public as the project develops, city officials said.

The full impact on the bus system will not be known until construction has started because there will be two lanes that mimic the existing Highway 82 corridor now, according to city engineers.

Council agreed Tuesday during its work session to fund two additional buses cycling between the Brush Creek Park and Ride and Rubey Park, with an emphasis on city routes as needed.

“My inclination is that if our routes are not running on schedule and are far off, we are actually going to force more people into cars than having to rely on public transportation, and that’s one of my concerns with not offering some redundancy in service,” City Manager Sara Ott said.

Staff estimated that three months of additional service for two buses will cost about $250,000.

CDOT’s plans along Highway 82 from April to July include a considerable amount of maintenance work along Highway 82 outside of the city limits, such as upgrading multiple ADA ramps at the intersections of the ABC and Buttermilk, as well as Tiehack and Maroon Creek Bridge deck replacements, guardrail work and asphalt resurfacing of the roadway.

CDOT has included within the project the repair of a joint on the Castle Creek Bridge, which is scheduled for three weeks in September.

During the bridge joint reconstruction, there will be one lane coming into town that alternates with outbound transit and emergency vehicles, much like the work that was done in 2018 on the bridge.

Vehicles headed out of town will be directed through the West End and Power Plant Bridge.

City engineers said the bridge portion of CDOT’s project will present the greatest impact to the Aspen community, and congestion will be similar to what was encountered during improvements to the Hallam Street corridor in 2017.

During the duration of the project there will be an optional detour using McLain Flats Road.

City staff is concerned with the traffic congestion that will likely occur along Cemetery Lane that CDOT is not responsible to mitigate.

To decrease the negative impacts to citizens in the Cemetery Lane neighborhood, council agreed to funding $20,000 for additional flaggers to help local traffic access homes and provide a safe environment for pedestrians.

“We’ve already gotten some concerned citizens speaking out about Cemetery Lane and the McLain Flats detour,” said Jack Dannenberg, a city project manager in the engineering department.

By using a flagger on the downhill side of Cemetery Lane in the morning and on the uphill side of Cemetery Lane in the evening, gaps will be created to enable access by local traffic.

Night work will be utilized for asphalt resurfacing of Highway 82 from the ABC to Castle Creek Bridge to decrease traffic impacts.

For most of the project, two lanes in both directions will be maintained during the day for the entire corridor except during the roundabout construction and night work.

At a minimum, one lane of traffic each direction will remain open throughout the construction corridor for the entirety of the project. Two lanes of traffic in both directions will be maintained during the Maroon Creek Bridge resurfacing.

Council will be asked for an additional $35,000 during the spring supplemental budget request process for tree replacement in the roundabout.

Trees will be required to be removed around the perimeter of the roundabout to assure the center of the roundabout remains undisturbed.

A variance has been given by CDOT to replace trees around the perimeter within a typical clear zone but will not be included within the project budget, according to city engineers.

The city is responsible for planting trees after CDOT is finished with the project to assure the aesthetic feel coming into town is similar to existing conditions.

To plant 84 trees and 81 shrubs, it’s anticipated to cost $90,000, and there is currently $55,000 appropriated within the budget.

This past fall, the entire corridor project was put out to bid and it came back at $11 million, even though CDOT had allocated $7 million.

“CDOT saw this as a critical component to our economy and coughed up the extra $4 million for this project,” Dannenberg said.

Council last June agreed to pay for $1 million toward the roundabout project.