CDOT tweaks timing for city’s traffic lights

Naomi HavlenAspen Times Staff Writer

The timing for Aspen’s three traffic lights has been adjusted in the past couple of weeks, allowing pedestrians to stroll a little more and cars more time to cruise.The traffic signals at Aspen and Monarch streets were lengthened, while the light at Mill Street was shortened. The CDOT project was part of a signal check along the corridor of Highway 82 from Glenwood Springs to Aspen.According to CDOT spokesman Bob Wilson, many of the changes were complaint-driven. Traffic analysts from PBS&J Consultants, a national firm with an office in Denver, were brought in to reconfigure the signals.”We don’t make changes that often, except on an as-needed basis,” Wilson said. “After a culmination of calls, they came in and made recommendations. In Aspen, people coming upvalley in the morning and going downvalley in the afternoon has been a problem for a quite awhile.”Charles Meyer, a CDOT traffic operations engineer, said each “leg” of the three intersections in town was considered by PBS&J before changes were made.”We look at the amount of pedestrian use and try to balance all of those needs to coordinate the signals from Aspen to Glenwood,” he said. “That also depends on time of day, like when there are more cars entering Aspen in the morning and more cars leaving in the evening. At noon, there are more cars in general, and then we had to consider off-peak time later in the evening and on weekends.”Meyer said in Aspen, motorists and pedestrians were given equal weight, since the city sits at the end of the highway. Since Highway 82 isn’t as much of a main thoroughfare through town as it is downvalley, “pedestrians are given equal respect,” he said.Jim Nall, a CDOT traffic and safety manager, said the entire process began over a year ago with traffic counts throughout the valley. Now that changes have been made, CDOT will allow traffic to adjust to the new timing before making any last-ditch changes.”We may have to tweak things, or do some fine tuning and then measure effectiveness,” Nall said. “We’re confident we’ve improved things: both the traffic flow and the pedestrian flow, and we want to maintain that balance.”