Castle Creek Bridge sidewalk to expand |

Castle Creek Bridge sidewalk to expand

City of Aspen Capital Asset Director Jack Wheeler gives an update on the civic replacement program at the Aspen Chamber Resort Association Spring Breakfast Wednesday and Aspen Meadows.
Jeremy Wallace/The Aspen Times |

Starting today, the city of Aspen will pour concrete on the north side of the Castle Creek Bridge to extend the sidewalk as part of its Living Lab experiment.

City Engineer Tricia Aragon talked about the project at Wednesday’s Aspen Chamber Resort Association community breakfast. She said the city needs community input on temporary fixes that will be put into place as part of the experiment.

The city planned to install barriers between the driving lanes and the sidewalk Wednesday night, she said.

Between now and the end of the week, and potentially through Monday, Aragon said that pedestrians and bicyclists would have to cross the bridge on the south side or use the Marolt Open Space path to get to and from town.

Aragon said the city had already re-striped the lanes, reducing them from 12 feet to 11 feet, essentially turning the bridge lanes into a city street rather than its previous highway-like experience.

The safety issues for pedestrians and bicyclists on the bridge are well-known — Aragon said the area between Seventh Street and the Castle Creek Bridge is one of the most dangerous in town based on accident data.

“We will try to improve the experience and make it safer for users,” she said.

The experiment runs through July, and the city hopes to gather community input on the proposed fixes. More information about the project is available at http://www.castle

The city also presented about its civic space relocation project, with Capital Asset Director Jack Wheeler outlining the space constraints that city and police staff have faced for a long time, defending the city’s proposed square footage for two new buildings — 51,900 square feet on the land currently used by the Rio Grande building, and 14,900 square feet and 10 employee-housing units at 540 E. Main St. He noted that public outreach has gone on throughout the planning and design process.

“Now we’re actually doing something, and we’re starting 15 to 20 years in the hole,” Wheeler said. “We think we’ve come up with the most cost-effective, far-reaching, appropriate plan for the community to address the needs.”

Assistant City Manager Randy Ready and Parking Director Mitch Osur focused their talks at the chamber breakfast on the city’s transportation and mobility plans. Ready spoke of the council’s two goals in 2016 relating to improving mobility and reducing traffic.

Downvalley park-and-ride improvements are one way the city plans to provide more options for people in an effort to balance the need for private automobiles with transit, biking and walking. The Brush Creek Intercept Lot, for example, will go from 200 to 400 paved parking spaces.

Osur talked about the parking-rate hike in Aspen, a three-month test this summer that will raise rates in the downtown core by 50 percent as a way to encourage people to use alternative forms of transportation. The revenue will fund the city’s “Drive Less” program, providing incentives like WE-cycle passes, Roaring Fork Transportation Authority value cards, bike tuneups and gift cards, Osur said.

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