Aspen envisions project connecting downtown to river |

Aspen envisions project connecting downtown to river

Andre Salvail
The Aspen Times
Aspen CO Colorado
City of AspenAn option to make the intersection of Galena and Main street more pedestrian friendly is the installation of an alternative material to pavement.

ASPEN – A proposed project that’s being hailed as the “Galena Community Connection” – a way of linking downtown retail areas with the plaza next to the Pitkin County Library and Rio Grande Park – will be discussed at Tuesday’s Aspen City Council work session.

The meeting starts at 4:30 p.m. at Aspen City Hall. The same meeting is expected to feature a discussion on whether the council is interested in providing a subsidy to organizers of the Aspen Big Barbecue Block Party, which was initially held in August 2010 but has yet to return to the city’s annual festival lineup.

As for the Galena Connection, the council in late October heard from a city design team involved in collecting community input and creating preliminary plans for a renovated park in the area next to the library – also known as Galena Plaza – along with a pedestrian-friendly corridor with more green space and wider pathways. That corridor would flow from Galena Street near the downtown retail walking malls down to the library park and Rio Grande Park, eventually connecting with the Roaring Fork River.

City planners estimated the price tag for the project at more than $4 million. Council members directed planners to follow up with a plan that had more details and cost estimates for each proposed amenity. At the time, council members expressed concern that the project’s actual costs would be much higher than the $4.4 million projection.

That price tag also includes the cost of a repair project for the Rio Grande Parking Garage roof. Galena Plaza, a rarely used green space, sits atop the roof.

A memo from city engineer Trish Aragon to council members on Friday explains that the focus of the Galena Connection “would utilize place-driven planning to improve Galena Street into a positive pedestrian experience, a comfortable bike experience and a visually connected stormwater landscape from (Aspen Mountain) to the river.”

One of the primary principles of the project, Aragon wrote, is to implement a “green street” strategy, bringing new stormwater technologies and aesthetics to downtown Aspen. Currently, storm runoff from Galena Street flows to the Roaring Fork River untreated, “with loads of urban pollutants,” she wrote.

“The new envisioned system will integrate trees, plants and biofiltration media into the streetscape and pedestrian passages. As a result, (this) will improve the quality of stormwater and runoff by creating a link, physically, visually and philosophically, of rain or snow falling on the mountain, flowing throughout our downtown and reaching the Roaring Fork River,” said Aragon.

At the October meeting, council members and Mayor Mick Ireland also discussed the possibility of revamping the intersection at Galena and Main streets to make it safer and friendlier for pedestrians and cyclists flowing between the commercial core and Rio Grande Park. Various options are likely to be discussed at Tuesday’s meeting, all of which aim to implement a “traffic calming effect” on Main Street, which also serves as state Highway 82.

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