Aspen takes baby steps on cars in West End |

Aspen takes baby steps on cars in West End

Andre Salvail
The Aspen Times
Aspen CO Colorado

ASPEN – The Aspen City Council decided Monday to implement a few staff-suggested measures aimed at reducing the impact of summer events on West End residents but stopped short of any action that would significantly clamp down on motorists who cut through the neighborhood to avoid congestion on Main Street and the S-curves.

A full slate of cultural and professional events are planned for the Aspen Meadows campus in the West End this summer, chiefly the Aspen Institute’s Ideas Festival and the Aspen Music Festival and School’s summer concert series. Also, Aspen Country Day School is temporarily relocating to the campus this fall as construction begins on its permanent facility off Castle Creek Road south of Aspen.

Given the many scheduled activities and the school’s relocation – along with the ongoing issue of motorists utilizing the “West End sneak” to avoid Main Street and the S-curves during the late-afternoon rush hours – residents have asked the city for traffic-calming measures and enhanced parking-regulation enforcement.

But council members were reluctant during a Monday work session to move full steam ahead into $39,000 worth of options recommended by the city’s Transportation, Police, Engineer and Parks departments. They asked for more data, to be supplied at a future work session, and for the time being decided to go with the following piecemeal approach:

• Extended evening hours for the Crosstown Shuttle, but only on nights when special events, such as Aspen Music Festival concerts, are scheduled. Staff had asked for extended hours throughout the summer tourism season, which would have cost an estimated $15,000.

• Overtime pay for a police officer to work in the West End near the Aspen Meadows campus during special events to enforce parking regulations and to provide a presence that will deter motorists from ill behavior. Aspen Police Chief Richard Pryor estimated that the overtime pay will cost the city about $1,500 during the upcoming summer months. Staff had asked for $12,000 to hire a part-time Parking Department officer who would issue citations for various infractions.

• Installation of bollards – thin posts fixed to the middle of the road, designed to deter speeding – for West Smuggler Street, at a cost of about $2,500. Officials said the bollards might slow down some outbound drivers but aren’t likely to deter them from using the street, which connects with Power Plant Road and Cemetery Lane before bringing motorists back to Highway 82.

The council showed no support for a staff request for $10,000 to increase the city’s promotion of the Brush Creek intercept lot so that summer visitors will use a Roaring Fork Transportation Authority bus in lieu of driving to Aspen and parking on city streets.

Lana Mione, representing the Aspen Music Festival and School, told the council that festival officials plan to dedicate two people to help with traffic control during concert nights at the Benedict Music Tent. The festival had considered implementing a fee to music patrons who use a nearby parking lot, but decided that the charge wouldn’t solve the problem of overflow parking on West End streets. The tent has a capacity of more than 2,000 patrons.

As for the long-standing issue of motorists cutting through West Smuggler Street to avoid S-curve congestion during summer months, council members and city staff appeared at a loss for solutions. A brief discussion centered on the possibilities of making Power Plant Road a one-way street or installing “Local Traffic Only” signs in the neighborhood, but no consensus was reached.

In the end, the council accepted the recommendation to install bollards on West Smuggler.

Resident Robert Auld suggested that the council should save its money.

“I don’t think the bollards will do anything,” he said.

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