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Detour draws complaints

Paul Conrad/The Aspen Times
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Memorial Day can’t come soon enough for Rob Auld.That weekend should mark the end of the seemingly endless line of traffic passing in front of the large bay windows in his West End home.Auld lives on the detour route that took effect Monday as the Colorado Department of Transportation began repaving and fixing trouble spots on Main Street, and constructing a bus-transit lane.The detour, through May 27, is every day and lasts 24 hours a day.

“It starts at about 7 in the morning. It’s not as bad as it is now,” he said at the beginning of Wednesday evening rush hour. “But it’s basically bumper-to-bumper traffic pretty much all day. And naturally our bedroom is on the front of the house.”Auld mentioned the difficulty of trying to sleep while “the guys come out of the Cantina with a few beers [in them] on their Harleys and go roaring down the street. That really makes it pleasant, too.”Vehicles crawling past his house and spewing exhaust Wednesday included 18-wheelers, large diesel trucks and buses.”Basically, I can’t use my front driveway,” said Auld, who’s parking in the alley behind his home. He said the daily traffic jams date to December, when the city tried a couple of traffic experiments.Auld is not alone in his frustration: Other West End residents, as well as motorists, have complained about the Main Street detour, a construction official said.

Displeasure has ranged from how long the detour will be in place (drivers) to motorists racing along formally quiet streets to circumvent the circumvention (residents).A dozen or so complaints have been registered on a construction hotline this week, said Steve O’Hanlon, project manager of KECI Colorado Inc. The company is CDOT’s contractor on the projects. The bus-transit lane from Garmisch to Seventh streets is expected to open May 22. The lane will be for downvalley-bound buses from 3 to 6 p.m. and is expected to shave 10 to 30 minutes off their commute.The project’s first phase includes tearing up and replacing concrete pavement at Seventh and Hallam. Similar work on curbs and gutters will last through the summer. O’Hanlon said the concrete is failing. The repaving of Main Street will last from Labor Day until Oct. 31.The detour takes vehicles off Main and onto Sixth Street; it then heads to Smuggler to Eighth and then back to Highway 82, although many vehicles missed the return on Eighth and went down Power Plant Road during the detour’s first couple of days.



Meanwhile, some motorists are using other West End streets to get around the detour, which has caused a long line of traffic on Sixth and Smuggler.O’Hanlon said road crews are working to address that problem with more closure signs and traffic flaggers.”We keep revising the detour to try to make it run smoother,” he said.The Roaring Fork Transportation Authority has closed the bus stop at Eighth and Main during the detour. Riders are asked to use the stops at Fourth Street and on Cemetery Lane. For more information about the road projects, call 309-4973.Chad Abraham’s e-mail address is chad@aspentimes.com


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