Aspen wants input on gondola intersection
October 26, 2012
ASPEN – The city of Aspen is seeking input on possible changes to the area where Gondola Plaza meets the intersection of South Hunter Street and East Durant Avenue.
Open houses will be held Thursday in an outdoor area of the plaza from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and the Sister Cities room in the basement of City Hall from 5 to 7 p.m. on the same day.
Tyler Christoff, a project manager in the city’s Engineering Department, said the goal is to gather ideas that might assist a project that makes the intersection, which is considered dangerous, more pedestrian-friendly.
Think of the area of the street near the Wheeler Opera House, he said, where South Mill Street and East Hyman Avenue meet. A raised pedestrian crosswalk there and other features make the curve less friendly to vehicles.
“We’ve identified the Hunter Street intersection as a congested area, one where pedestrians don’t have precedence,” Christoff said. “We want to make sure they have a safe and visual crossing and equal importance in the intersection with vehicles and cyclists.”
The city wants feedback from residents, property owners and business operators in the area, he said.
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“We want to know what they think are the issues over there, what they think of our conceptual designs and what can make it better,” Christoff said.
The intersection at Gondola Plaza has high traffic counts and a lot of activity during the summer and winter tourist seasons, he said.
“It’s a key link to Aspen Mountain from town. It’s kind of a centerpiece,” he said.
The city has data on accidents at the intersection. That information was not readily available, but Christoff said there have been accidents associated with vehicles clashing with bicycles and pedestrians. Other accidents have been caused by motorists backing out of parking spaces.
Essentially, a potential project would extend “the character of the plaza through the intersection to the northern sidewalks (across the street) and making the vehicles secondary by incorporating bulb-outs (sidewalk extensions) and creating a raised intersection for flush pedestrian travel from the plaza,” a city memorandum said.
The community has weighed in on the issue before, with some saying they don’t want to lose any of the parking spaces in the area. Any project would have to weigh drainage, snow management and transit-stop factors, Christoff said.
To weigh in on the matter, attend the open house or post a comment by accessing http://www.aspenpitkin.com/Departments/Community-Relations/Open-City-Hall.