CDOT eyes walkway on bridge |

CDOT eyes walkway on bridge

Janet Urquhart

A walkway carved out of the existing Maroon Creek bridge could give pedestrians a way to cross the gorge while a new bridge is under construction, according to state highway officials.It’s not the ideal solution, but it’s better than nothing, said Karen Rowe, resident engineer at the Colorado Department of Transportation’s Glenwood Springs office.Nonetheless, at least one local elected official wasn’t overly enthused about the option on Tuesday.CDOT officials presented the proposal during a joint meeting of the Aspen City Council and Pitkin County commissioners.The traffic lanes on the bridge would be reduced from 12 feet to 11 feet to make way for roughly five feet along the north side of the bridge that would be reserved for pedestrians, according to Ralph Trapani, a former CDOT highway engineer who is now working on plans for the new bridge as a consultant. A concrete barrier would likely separate traffic from pedestrians.In addition, the speed limit on the bridge will be cut from 35 to 25 mph during construction, he said.The idea came out of a discussion last week with new Snowmass Town Councilman John Wilkinson, Trapani said. Last month, Wilkinson blasted CDOT’s plan to remove the existing pedestrian bridge – a necessary step in constructing the new highway bridge – and leave pedestrians with no feasible means of crossing Maroon Creek.However, the temporary solution, which would likely be in place for more than a year, didn’t impress Mayor Helen Klanderud.”I’m certainly not going to advise anybody to go across that bridge,” she said. “That’s so tight.”But other elected officials endorsed the proposal.”What this means to me is, for 18 months, I can ride my bike to town,” said Commissioner Shellie Roy. “This at least gives you some safety.”Bicyclists won’t be able to ride in the pedestrian walkway, Trapani said. Presumably, they could walk their bikes across the span, though, if they don’t want to ride in traffic.CDOT plans to begin construction of a new Highway 82 bridge over Maroon Creek next spring. The new span will be constructed where the pedestrian bridge currently exists, so that bridge has to be removed.The new bridge will have a separate, 12-foot bike/pedestrian lane. The state could build a financial incentive into the project in an effort to get that part of the new bridge finished first, Trapani said.Janet Urquhart’s e-mail address is