Aspen school traffic back in crosshairs |

Aspen school traffic back in crosshairs

Janet Urquhart
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

ASPEN – Traffic generated by the Aspen schools campus will get another look by the Aspen School Board next month, but at least one board member suggested the political will to deter parents from bringing their children to school probably doesn’t exist.

Pitkin County commissioners – Michael Owsley in particular – urged school officials to do more to encourage use of mass transit on campus. It’s an issue that comes up repeatedly.

“The commute on Maroon Creek Road is killing people – it’s killing the roundabout,” Owsley said during a joint meeting of the two boards this week.

Vehicles moving through the Maroon Creek roundabout to get to and from the Maroon Creek Road campus, particularly during peak morning traffic, are exacerbating the backups endured by upvalley commuters, Owsley suggested.

Those backups occur even when school is not in session, school board members countered, pondering the extent to which reducing school traffic would alleviate congestion.

“I don’t think it’s going to fix your traffic problem,” said board member Fred Peirce.

The district already sees strong ridership on school buses, and about 60 of the district’s 275 downvalley students regularly take a bus from downvalley, noted Charla Belinski, school board chairwoman. In addition, only seniors are permitted to park on campus, and the fee to do so has gone up over the years.

The district runs a downvalley bus for teachers, and will offer a shuttle to and from Snowmass Village to serve new teacher housing that will be occupied there this fall, Belinski added.

Still, the board agreed to discuss the issue at a scheduled retreat next month. The backbone to do something, however, will need to come from the city and county, along with the school district, school board members suggested; commissioners agreed.

The district only has the ability to regulate parking and drop-offs, Peirce noted. A previous suggestion that the district charge a fee for dropping off or picking up youngsters went nowhere, he said.

“I’m still convinced that if we charged parents $20 every time they dropped a kid off or picked them up, it would probably reduce traffic,” Peirce said. “There’s no political will to do that, as far as I can tell.”

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