Disruption at the bridge begins | AspenTimes.com

Disruption at the bridge begins

Aspen Times Staff

The days of bicyclists riding across the Maroon Creek pedestrian/bike bridge are about to come to an end. Mark Fox/The Aspen Times

Commuters who like to put their bicycle on a bus for the ride up to Aspen will be doing some extra pedaling starting Tuesday.Crews will place a concrete barrier down the length of the Highway 82 bridge over Maroon Creek to create a temporary, 4-foot pedestrian/bike path that will remain in place throughout construction of a new highway bridge.

The barrier means the vehicle lanes on the bridge will be reduced to 11 feet – too narrow for Roaring Fork Transportation Authority buses to safely transport bicycles across the bridge. Cyclists going in and out of Aspen who want to transport their bicycle via a bus will have to use the bus stop at Buttermilk to load and unload their bikes. That means an upvalley bus rider who’s transporting a bike up to Aspen in order to pedal back downvalley in the evening, for example, will have to get off the bus at Buttermilk and ride their bike the rest of the way into town.Cyclists crossing the highway bridge will have to dismount and walk their bikes across the span on the new path.

“We’ve given this a great deal of consideration, and we determined that to fairly accommodate all our cyclist-bus riders along the entire RFTA route, this was the safest and best solution,” said John Hocker, RFTA’s director of operations. “Cyclists will have an extra two miles [each way] to ride into Aspen from Buttermilk – we hope this won’t inconvenience anyone too much.”The existing, separate bike/pedestrian bridge that spans the Maroon Creek gorge adjacent to the highway bridge will soon disappear to make way for construction of the new Highway 82 bridge. Bicycle and pedestrian traffic will be switched onto the temporary path on the existing highway bridge starting the week of July 25, according to the Colorado Department of Transportation.On Wednesday, 10-minute stops at each end of the bridge are expected after 7 p.m. while crews restripe the approaches and realign traffic with the new, 11-foot lanes over the bridge.

Crews will install the concrete barrier on Thursday and Friday. Expect 10-minute stops at each end of the bridge after 7 p.m., according to CDOT.Also on Thursday, a temporary traffic signal installed at the downvalley end of the bridge will become active. It will be synchronized with the signal at Truscott Road so both signals can be used to periodically stop traffic in both directions, allowing wide loads to cross the bridge.Completion of the new bridge is expected late in 2007.