City Council must step up to solve traffic problems
The Aspen City Council is studying ways to ease traffic congestion though the S-curves and past the roundabout.A plan drawn up by a citizens committee known as the S-curves task force had its most recent public airing by the City Council last week. There are some great ideas, such as a bus-only lane on Main Street, that will no doubt smooth the flow.And while it is encouraging that the city is moving forward with the task force recommendations, the City Council appears to be addressing this very real problem with timidity and half-measures.For example, at the end of its recent discussion, the City Council was considering a halt to left turns off Cemetery Lane onto Highway 82 from 3-6 p.m. each day. That would allow afternoon traffic to flow more smoothly in both directions, and hopefully alleviate at least some of the massive afternoon backups that run down Main Street all the way to Paepcke Park.Good start. But what about the morning traffic? The Cemetery Lane signal presents at least as much trouble for the morning motorist as it does for the afternoon motorist. The task force called for ending left turns off Cemetery Lane to Highway 82 altogether. That might be a bit extreme, but it’s closer to providing a solution than the very limited hours the council was considering.Another topic handled with too much timidness concerned access from side streets into the S-curves. One council member suggested that blocking access onto Seventh from Bleeker Street would be a good start. A good start to what? That idea amounts to even less than a half-measure.The recommendation from the citizen task force, which calls for sharply limiting access to and from all the side streets and alleys, makes much more sense.Aspenites have rejected the plan to straighten the highway across the Marolt Open Space to connect it directly with Main Street, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t difficult decisions ahead regarding the entrance to Aspen. Someone’s toes will need to be stepped on in order to deal with the volume of traffic that comes across the Castle Creek bridge. If it’s not the Friends of Marolt, then it’s the residents of Cemetery Lane and the neighborhood around the Aspen Meadows who will have to drive a little farther to get where they want to go.This is a real problem. The solution demands political courage. This is an opportunity for our City Council to demonstrate such courage.
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