City seeking CDOT nodon changes to S-curves
Aspen will seek permission from the state to make various changes to Highway 82 to improve traffic flow in the S-curves, but the City Council didn’t commit Tuesday to following through with all of the ideas.Getting permission from the Colorado Department of Transportation is the first step in implementing any of the ideas, and the council agreed unanimously to seek the agency’s approval. Members were split, though, on whether they should try some ideas before others or pursue all of them at once.”We might as well get on with it and see what improvements CDOT is willing to go along with,” said Councilman Tim Semrau.The proposals came from a citizen task force appointed last year to recommend quick and relatively inexpensive changes that could be made to the western entrance to town, where the highway is reduced to two lanes of traffic and winds through two 90-degree turns known as the S-curves.Council members Rachel Richards and Terry Paulson were most keen on altering the operation of the Cemetery Lane traffic signal before the summer is out. The roughly $40,000 proposal would prevent left turns off Cemetery Lane into town from 3 to 6 p.m. and give upvalley traffic a continual green light to continue through the intersection.When the turn restriction is in effect, Aspen-bound traffic coming out of Cemetery Lane would have to swing around the Maroon Creek Road roundabout and then head back toward town. Mayor Helen Klanderud expressed doubts about motorists’ willingness to “go backward to move forward.”The city will also seek permission from CDOT to close off side-street access into the S-curves, though Richards suggested the city simply cut off access to the highway from Bleeker Street to start.CDOT will also be asked to OK a bus-only outbound lane on Main Street from 3 to 6 p.m. The move will require the restriping of the street and elimination of parking on the south side of Main between Seventh and Garmisch streets. Parking on the north side would be prohibited while the bus lane is in effect during peak commuting hours.”I think if we’re serious about expediting mass transit in town, we can’t leave the Main Street transit lane out,” Klanderud said. “It’s either the whole package or not.”The cost to create the bus lane is estimated at $155,400. The city doesn’t have the money; the council anticipates asking the Elected Officials Transportation Committee to fund that proposal if it decides to give the idea a try. The EOTC, made up of elected officials from Aspen, Snowmass Village and Pitkin County, controls the proceeds of a sales tax dedicated to transit.Richards voiced concern about losing parking on Main Street and asked how many spaces could be regained with angled rather than parallel parking on side streets in the area.”This transit proposal is going to impact our Main Street businesses substantially,” she predicted.Klanderud insisted the council seek input from businesses and residents who will be affected by the changes before they’re implemented.Only Councilman Torre expressed interest in exploring four lanes of traffic through the constricted S-curves.Janet Urquhart’s e-mail address is email@example.com
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