Aspen landmark Rubey Park ready for an overhaul?
The Aspen Times
One of Aspen’s most visited landmarks is ready for an overhaul, according to city officials.
Rubey Park Transit Center, the downtown bus station, is a portal into and out of Aspen for millions of people each year. But those who happen to swing through the station this afternoon will have a chance to weigh in on the facility’s fate.
The city’s Transportation Department is asking bus riders and neighboring businesses and residents to help shape future plans for Rubey Park.
Today’s open house at the bus station, from 4 to 6 p.m., is the first of three public open houses where input will be gathered before a team of consultants comes up with proposals for the redesign of Rubey Park. That work is to be done by November.
Meanwhile, the bus station is getting its annual spring refurbishing and then some. Fresh paint and new flooring are in place, and the restrooms are being updated with new stalls and fixtures — improvements that are likely to be embraced by users but don’t go far enough to address some glaring deficiencies and maintenance issues, according to John Krueger, city transportation director.
“We’re putting a little more money into it than usual, but what we want to do now is a much bigger-scale thing,” he said.
Rubey Park, on Durant Avenue, has been functioning as Aspen’s version of Grand Central for some 30 years. The existing brick building with its distinctive clock tower (a later addition) was built in 1988.
At that time, the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority was carrying about 1.6 million passengers annually on the bus system that serves Aspen and the greater Roaring Fork Valley. Now, ridership is close to 4 million. Between 8 and 10 a.m. on a busy day, the 12 bus-staging areas around the station serve 86 departures and 94 arrivals, according to the city.
The station needs more space for buses, Krueger said.
He pointed to cracked, uneven concrete on the station’s pedestrian platform, the lack of adequate covered seating and the crumbling cement walls of the raised planters around the building as other opportunities for a significant upgrade.
“It’s done us well, but we’ve just outgrown it. The last five or 10 years, we’ve just been holding it together,” Krueger said.
Whether one of the proposed alternatives will call for razing the building remains to be seen.
“I don’t know. We’ll see,” Krueger said.
The city has hired a consulting team to develop a schematic design for a remodeling of Rubey Park that is heavily based on community input. At today’s open house, participants will tour the facility and review display boards. They’ll be able to share their thoughts on what they see by photo tagging — recording comments with photos sent to the project’s email and Twitter accounts — and by speaking with staff recorders who will document comments from participants. In addition to the open houses, stakeholder focus groups and rider surveys will be used to collect input.
The city has won tentative approval for a $1 million state grant for construction work at Rubey Park; RFTA is seeking other grants worth $4 million.
With grant funding, detailed design work could begin in November, with construction starting next year.
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