Cops crack down on construction | AspenTimes.com

Cops crack down on construction

Joel Stonington
Aspen, CO, Colorado

ASPEN ” The city engineering department took the unusual step of getting police involved Wednesday night after a construction site would not stop work upon notice of a safety violation.

The construction site, at the corner of Galena and Main ” across the street from the Pitkin County Courthouse ” was operating above the legal sound level at 7 p.m. and was using a crane without certain safety guidelines, said Trisha Nelson, senior project manager with the city engineering office.

“We take it pretty seriously,” said Mayor Mick Ireland, who happened to be walking by as police were issuing the citation. “It’s a safety violation. People need to desist when they’re told to.”

Aspen police Sgt. John Rushing said his office is only called on to issue a citation once or twice a year. For the most part, construction workers pay attention to a stop notice, also known as a red tag.

Recent weeks have seen a significant increase in red tags following a City Council meeting on July 30, when council directed the engineering department to begin giving red tags after one verbal warning.

“It’s been really, really nuts,” Nelson said. “We’re trying to crack down.”

There were more than a half dozen red tags in the week following the City Council meeting and city engineers are on the lookout for more violations. Before Wednesday, no construction companiesy had defied the cease-and-desist order.

John Silich, owner of Silich Construction, said that none of his workers were on site when the violation happened and that a subcontractor, Earthworks, was operating the crane.

“In our organization we were not represented at that time, which we regret very much at this point,” Silich said, adding that in the future there will be a representative on every Silich construction site until work is done.

Sean Mello, a project manager for Earthworks, said that the workers were almost done when told to stop by the engineering department. The crane operator decided to pick up a compactor out of the hole before shutting the crane down for the night, but that was one bit of work too much for the engineers.

Ireland said one thing that may tone down the number of red tags is to have a universal set of rules, such that different construction sites aren’t on different rules depending on when the project was approved.

Joel Stonington’s e-mail address is jstonington@aspentimes.com


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