County approves Highway 82 plan
A plan for handling traffic and new intersections on Highway 82 in the upper valley received preliminary approval Wednesday from the Pitkin County commissioners.The plan considers where major developments will be built along the highway and decides where to make changes for increased traffic. It covers the highway between Smith Hill Way, which heads toward Woody Creek, and the Maroon Creek bridge. Most of the concerns have had to do with proposed closure of a couple of median crossovers on the highway – places where cars from private residences can cross the highway.”That’s a pretty dramatic thing to have on a high-speed, four-lane highway,” said Bud Eylar, transportation manager for Pitkin County. “Usually median crossovers are for big intersections, and they’re where traffic signals are. Having those for single-family residences is unusual, and closing those concerned those people.”Earlier this year the county interviewed everyone who owns land between the Maroon Creek bridge and Smith Hill Way, and has had a couple of open houses to solicit comments from the public.Pitkin County’s director of public works, Brian Pettet, in May said the goal is to keep transportation planning ahead of development. The document includes plans for projects that will impact traffic, like the Burlingame affordable housing project near the Aspen Airport Business Center or an expansion of the airport.If a development that the plan has not addressed occurs, the county could charge a developer a fee for work done to the highway to accommodate it.”But there’s not a lot of property [in this area] to develop,” Eylar said. “So the plan cleans things up as far as traffic operations, safety and so forth. And it’s a document that is very clear where we can grant access if someone does come in with a development proposal.”The public can look over copies of the plan, which can be borrowed from the county’s public works offices, the commissioners’ offices, community development and the Aspen transportation office.The project includes Pitkin County and the city of Aspen. Once both approve the access control plan as an ordinance, it will be taken to the Colorado Department of Transportation for final adoption, Eylar said.Eylar said the city’s staff is working on the draft of the plan, which will probably reach the City Council in the next month. The county’s public hearing on the plan is set for Oct. 12.Naomi Havlen’s e-mail address is email@example.com
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