Aspen’s West End residents want traffic relief

Andre Salvail
The Aspen Times
Aspen CO Colorado

ASPEN – The Aspen City Council’s work session Monday is expected to include a discussion on options for discouraging motorists from cutting through the city’s West End neighborhood to avoid congestion on Highway 82 near the S-curves.

Like the S-curves themselves, what some call the “West End sneak” has been a community issue for years.

Frustrated drivers attempting to leave town while bottled up on Main Street sometimes “respond to this congestion by diverting through the West End, via Smuggler Street, to Power Plant Road,” according to a multidepartmental memorandum to the council. From Power Plant Road, motorists are able to access Cemetery Lane, which allows them to re-enter Highway 82 on their way to Castle Creek and Maroon Creek roads, the Aspen Business Center area and midvalley and downvalley destinations.

But the West End faces other traffic issues. Numerous cultural and professional events are planned at the Aspen Meadows campus in the West End this summer. And 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.

In response, the city is looking for ways to ease the impact on residents. Assistant City Manager Randy Ready said staff will present traffic-calming alternatives to council members that, if fully implemented, would cost about $39,000.

These measures include:

• $15,000 for extended Crosstown Shuttle service.

• $12,000 for a part-time parking officer dedicated to the West End for the summer months.

• $10,000 for greater promotion of the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority’s Brush Creek intercept lot.

• $2,520 for bollards – thin posts fixed to the middle of the road, designed to deter speeding – for West Smuggler Street.

“Commute-based complaints typically come from homes around Smuggler Street and revolve around congestion, noise and speeding,” the memo says. “Event-related congestion, speed and parking complaints often come from homes located near Gillespie, 3rd, 4th and 5th streets.”

In a letter to city officials, Amy Margerum states that West End residents would appreciate bollards and other traffic-calming measures to discourage outbound motorists from speeding and cutting through the neighborhood.

She also writes that she’s not in favor of the city designating 3rd and 5th streets for through-traffic. “Channeling traffic down one or two streets is not helpful and makes those residents live with horrible traffic,” Margerum says. “This is one reason why Smuggler is taking ALL the traffic because the city closed off the other entrances to Highway 82.”

A letter from Steve and Debbi Falender asks the city to make the West End safer during Aspen Music Festival and Aspen Institute summer events. They suggest that speed limits be reduced to 15 mph in the general area of the Benedict Music Tent and that police step up enforcement of parking regulation during concerts.

The work session begins at 5 p.m. in the basement of Aspen City Hall.