Aspen mulls replacement of bridge | AspenTimes.com

Aspen mulls replacement of bridge

Janet Urquhart
Aspen Times Staff Writer

Replacement of the Maroon Creek bridge may have the full support of the Aspen City Council, but council members are wondering how many lanes of traffic it should carry.

Mayor Helen Klanderud polled the council Monday on whether it should draft a resolution urging the Colorado Department of Transportation to go ahead with replacement of the bridge, now that voters have rejected the Entrance to Aspen project. The bridge carrying Highway 82 over Maroon Creek was built in 1888 as a railroad trestle. Its replacement was part of the entrance project.

“I think there’s a recognition on this council [that], in the future, there needs to be a replacement of the Maroon Creek bridge,” Klanderud said.

The Record of Decision for the Entrance to Aspen would allow a four-lane bridge, with two dedicated bus lanes from Buttermilk to the roundabout, noted Randy Ready, assistant city manager. That alternative would take up open space and require another vote, he warned.

Councilman Tony Hershey suggested four unrestricted lanes of traffic be considered for that stretch of highway, given recent voter rejections of mass-transit options.

Voters have turned down funding for light rail, dedicated bus lanes on a new alignment into town and, last week, the new alignment itself, Hershey noted. Throw in voter rejection of a trolley line and that’s four votes against mass transit, he said, suggesting the public favors automobile travel.

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“We’ve got at least three anti-transit votes in the last four years,” agreed Councilman Tom McCabe.

McCabe also suggested the city ask the Elected Officials Transportation Committee if it would consider fronting some of the cost of a new bridge with its $10 million in accrued funds. The committee is made up of elected officials representing Aspen, Pitkin County and Snowmass Village.

“Perhaps, as with the roundabout, we can throw some money at it and get it to making it happen sooner rather than later,” he said.

The EOTC will meet Nov. 21.

On the matter of how else the city should respond to last week’s defeat of the proposed new highway alignment, the council agreed that is a matter for later discussion.

Local citizen Bert Myrin, a supporter of the existing S-curves alignment, urged the council to adopt a resolution voicing its support for the S-curves to CDOT.

[Janet Urquhart’s e-mail address is janet@aspentimes.com]