Aspen roundabout construction traffic delays to end by June
Turns out the traffic delays in and out of Aspen this spring and summer caused by the major reconstruction of the roundabout west of town may not be as bad as initially forecast.
In fact, rebuilding the roundabout in durable concrete instead of pothole-prone asphalt may be completed by the end of June, according to Tracy Trulove, a Colorado Department of Transportation spokeswoman who briefed Pitkin County commissioners on the project Tuesday.
“So, it really is a quick hit,” Trulove said. “We get in there, we get the work done.”
Up until Tuesday, CDOT officials had been forecasting Aspen-area traffic headaches from June to October because of the project, which will also include repaving Highway 82 from the Aspen Business Center to the Maroon Creek Bridge. And while commuters and others still might endure days of frustration — especially in the fall when the aging Castle Creek Bridge undergoes yet another set of repairs — it likely won’t be the prolonged gridlocked agony initially anticipated, Trulove said.
“I’m not going to sugarcoat it for anyone, there is going to be times where there are delays,” she said. “(But we’re) really trying not be as impactful in those high traffic impact times.”
The roundabout was always set to be the major hassle in the project.
CDOT was initially set to simply repave the traffic circle in asphalt, but the Aspen City Council — tired of constant potholes during winter months — ponied up $980,000 to instead rebuild the circle out of concrete. Asphalt lasts 2-to-3 years, while the concrete is said to hold up for 20-to-30 years.
Pitkin County, the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority and the Elected Officials Transportation Committee then chipped in $671,000 more for the concrete roundabout and CDOT agreed to foot the remaining $949,000 for it. Those concerned with the nearly $2.6 million cost might check out the roundabout’s current condition (it is peppered with potholes on all sides) as proof of the need for a better solution than asphalt.
Trulove said the contractor on the project is set to begin removing shrubs and trees in and around the roundabout starting March 15. A month later in mid-April, actual construction will begin with removal of all the asphalt, and a voluntary detour from the intersection of Highway 82 and Smith Hill Way to the intersection of Cemetery Lane and Highway 82 will begin. The roundabout will be down to one lane in each direction during the construction to allow buses and local traffic through.
Flaggers will be posted along the detour and within the roundabout to deal with problems, emergency vehicles and other situations, she said.
Trulove sounded a note of caution Tuesday for cyclists who attempt McLain Flats Road.
“This may not be a good year to ride that road,” she said.
The contractor must be done with the roundabout by the end of June. Work will halt during Aspen Food and Wine and the Aspen Ideas Festival, Trulove said.
After the roundabout is clad in concrete, the repaving of Highway 82 between the ABC and Maroon Creek Bridge will start. However, CDOT plans to pave the road at night, starting at probably 8 to 9 p.m. and stopping before the morning commute, though hours have not yet been set, she said.
That portion of the project is likely to last from July to September.
Finally, CDOT will begin replacing a joint under the Castle Creek Bridge after Labor Day, which should take four-to-five weeks, Trulove said. At that time, the bridge will be down to one lane mainly for buses, while most traffic will be detoured down Power Plant Road to Cemetery Lane, she said.
CDOT has set up three ways for the public to receive information about the project and report problems about detours: phone, email and an online website. The phone number is 970-457-0782, while email is CO82AspenRoundabout@gmail.com and the website is cdot.gov/projects/co-82-aspen-roundabout.