City to tackle Neal St. problems |

City to tackle Neal St. problems

John Colson

One of Aspen’s most popular small parks might get a bit noisyand dusty this summer, when city crews go to work on part of theNeal Street corridor.The city is planning to narrow Neal Street where it meets theHerron Park end of the No Problem Bridge; install “speed humps”to slow traffic down and change the parking lot configurationat the edge of Herron Park from head-in to parallel. The projectwill also get rid of the railroad-tie wall that supports the oldparking lot about three feet above the ground level of the park,and replace it with a graded slope from street level down to thepark.City Engineer Nick Adeh said the work to be done this summer willbe an attempt to find some short-term solutions to what has turnedinto a long-term problem.”The bridge is structurally functional for the next 15 to 18 years,”Adeh said. But, he added, it is “functionally obsolete” becauseit was built according to a poor design and is a safety hazardfor pedestrians and motorists.Because of the incline of the street and the angle of the turnat the upper end of the bridge, Adeh explained, motorists tendto take the turn on the inside, downhill side in both directions,meaning “there is a lot of wasted space on the other side of thebridge.”In addition, motorists tend to pick up speed either off the hillcoming down from Original Street, or the hill coming down fromGibson Street to the north of the park.Although the city is planning to replace the bridge at some point,Adeh said, a meeting with neighbors several weeks ago showed himthat something must be done this year to deal with neighborhoodconcerns about safety and speeding motorists.Adeh said he plans to build sidewalks, curbs and gutters, withgrassy strips of ground between the curb and sidewalk, to narrowthe street by several feet between the eastern end of the bridgeand the intersection with Queen Street. He said trees will beplanted in the grassy strips to give the street a kind of psychologicaltunnel effect.”The trees will act as visual walls,” he said, explaining thatmotorists will feel compelled to slow down as they approach thenarrow section, both by the fact that the street is actually narrowerand by the effect of the walls of trees.In addition, Adeh said, he will be putting in a designated crosswalkat the Queen Street intersection, along with signs instructingmotorists to stop for pedestrians in the crosswalk.In realigning the parking area along the edge of Herron Park,Adeh said, it is likely that half of the eight or so existingspaces will be lost.”This will be more of a pickup and delivery spot,” he said. Butto make up for the loss of spaces, his department plans to upgradethe parking spaces along the southern (riverside) side of QueenStreet across from the park. He said parents can then drop theirkids off at the park, and then drive over to the Queen Streetspaces to park.He said the plan to remove the three-foot railroad-tie wall thatsupports the existing parking area a few feet above the groundlevel of the park is in response to concerns that it is a safetyhazard for children and even adults.”It’ll be safe for kids,” he pledged.Adeh said the project will be put out for bids in March, and thatpreliminary estimates indicate it will cost approximately $150,000.According to Adeh, the work on Neal Street’s approach to the NoProblem Bridge is one of the 56 projects on his list for the comingyear.

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