Entrance to Aspen decision delayed past March | AspenTimes.com

Entrance to Aspen decision delayed past March

The east view of the preferred alternative for the Entrance to Aspen.
The city of Aspen/Courtesy photo

Aspen City Council on Tuesday kicked the can on asking voters to weigh in on the future of the Castle Creek Bridge and the entrance into town.

The majority of the council agreed during its regular meeting that a ballot question about the issue is too soon for the March election.

Council members discussed the timing of a ballot question the day prior during a work session on Monday and continued the topic into Tuesday’s meeting.

Mayor Torre said on Tuesday that March is too soon for such a complex topic and the future of the Entrance to Aspen.

“Last night, there was sentiment at the table that that was a really rushed process, perhaps too rushed for what we want to get accomplished,” he said. “I don’t have a clear picture on what we would be asking (in the ballot question).”

He added that, since he does not expect to get a clear picture on language of a potential question before the holidays, it does not make sense to rush it onto the March ballot. 

Fellow council members John Doyle, Skippy Mesirow, and Ward Hauenstein agreed March is too soon. 

Mesirow expressed a need for more time to fully understand the Entrance to Aspen history and process. He was elected in 2019 and, like many newer residents of Aspen and the Roaring Fork Valley, was not here for discussions in the mid-’90s and late aughts over the topic, as well as the Colorado Department of Transportation’s record of decision and preferred alternative. 

“I think for this process to be successful, clear, and lead to a trusted result, we’ll need more time … and I think I got a greater appreciation for the stress that it would put on staff during the holidays and just in general,” he said. 

Councilwoman Rachel Richards said she was disappointed in the prospect of delaying the process further. 

“I don’t know that you’re going to be informing the community more or if you’re going to be organizing the opposition,” she said.

The aging nature of the Castle Creek Bridge and long history of stalemate over what the Entrance to Aspen should be both factor into her urgency in getting the topic on the ballot, she said. 

Richards also has already stated that she will not be seeking re-election to the City Council next term. Her seat will be up for election on the March ballot. 

She said she will respect the council’s decision but implored other members to pick a date as soon as possible to prevent further delays. 

Torre agreed, and asked City Manager Sara Ott to discuss potential dates with council members for a future special election to determine the fate of the Entrance to Aspen and a new Castle Creek Bridge. 

Voters would be asked whether they want to re-open CDOT’s record of decision and preferred alternative to explore other options or uphold it.

The record of decision’s preferred alternative signed off on by CDOT and the Federal Highway Administration in 1998 identifies the entrance as a two-lane parkway that goes under the Marolt-Thomas Open Space via a cut-and-cover tunnel that has a transit component, including a light-rail system, and ends up on Seventh and Main streets leading to Rubey Park.

For more information, read our previous coverage:

Aspen City Council moves ahead with community education about aging bridge to town