Construction yields for partying in Aspen this weekend
Dozens of construction workers have abandoned their projects in Aspen’s central core so as to not disrupt the revelry that is the Food & Wine Classic this weekend.
“Everything is buttoned up,” said City Engineer Trish Aragon, who said it’s been stressful for crews trying to get their work done with a snowy and wet spring.
Friday morning, Trish and her team will be checking construction sites to make sure they are complying with the city’s rule of no construction activity during Food & Wine weekend.
“We do our final sweep and look for people who aren’t supposed to be working,” she said.
Food & Wine is the only Aspen-centric “holiday” that falls under the no-construction activity rule in the central core. Work also ceases for national holidays and the weeks between Christmas and New Year’s.
“It’s unique to this town,” Aragon said.
The city has one of the largest and most impactful projects in town right now. Work on the new 37,500-square-foot municipal office building has had a portion of Rio Grande Place closed for more than a month.
On Wednesday evening, it was opened in both directions in preparation for Food and Wine’s 5K charity run, which starts and finishes in Rio Grande Park this morning.
Come Monday, motorists should anticipate a lane closure on Rio Grande Place (alternating one way) for approximately a week while crews work on electric tie-in. After that, Rio Grande Place is expected to be open with minor interruptions depending on construction work activities until July 8.
Rio Grande Place and Mill Street, the latter of which is the second busiest road in town, have been ripped up just about every year for the past seven, causing major headaches for motorists and pedestrians for months on end.
There have more than been 45 permits pulled for work being done in the right-of-way on Mill Street since 2010, according to the city’s engineering department.
Roughly half of them have been city-initiated projects, including storm water work to keep the river free of pollution and water-line replacements, along with more intensive ones such as the multi-year effort to improve sidewalks, crossings and bike lanes, and the overhaul of Galena Plaza, which closed Mill Street for a portion of 2016.
Couple all that with major construction projects, including the renovation and expansion of the library, a new Jerome Professional building, the expansion of the Hotel Jerome, and new administrative buildings for Pitkin County and the Aspen Police Department.
The area is being impacted again — for the next two years — as the city builds its new office building and renovates the adjacent Rio Grande building.
Other city projects that were put on hold for this weekend, or have been completed, involve pedestrian improvements.
The intersection of Spring and Main streets, where the city is putting in a new crosswalk and rapid flash system, is nearly complete.
Landscaping and the installation of the rapid flash will occur after Food & Wine weekend.
“But you can cross safely and once the rapid flash is in it will be even more safer,” Aragon said.
Aragon said removing the steps on the northwest corner of South Aspen Street and Hopkins Avenue might be the best improvement the city made this spring.
“It’s awesome,” she said. “No more strollers going up the middle of Hopkins.”
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