Flow of vehicles into Aspen dropping | AspenTimes.com

Flow of vehicles into Aspen dropping

Traffic into Aspen is less than even during the depths of the pandemic.
Kelsey Brunner

Fewer and fewer cars are driving into Aspen, believe it or not.

The city confirmed that the overall vehicle count monitored on Castle Creek Bridge was lower on average in 2022 than prior years.

The city counted 18,703 average daily vehicle trips traveling across the bridge in 2022. In 2021, that count was 20,922.

Even 2020, the core pandemic year, didn’t slow the vehicular flow into Aspen. The city recorded 18,929 average daily vehicle trips crossing Castle Creek Bridge, surpassing the 2022 numbers.

The 2019 numbers, often used as a litmus point for pre-pandemic trends, recorded 21,105 average daily vehicle trips across the bridge. The year before, 2018, reflected a considerable dip in vehicle traffic to a low 19,577 average daily vehicle trips.

The prior year, 2017, had nearly 3,000 more daily vehicle trips than 2018.

These numbers are drastically reduced from the first year the city started tracking vehicles over the Castle Creek Bridge. In 1993, 23,675 daily vehicle trips crossed the bridge.

“It’s important to remember that the Aspen community decided in 1994 to maintain a single-vehicle traffic count crossing the bridge,” said Pete Rice, deputy city engineer. “The 1993-94 levels became the governing standards through the record of decision. One way to look at lower vehicle trips is that we are meeting, even exceeding, the goals.”

He said a number of factors can cause fluctuation in vehicle trips into Aspen.

“Since 1993, we’ve built up a number of successful transit and mobility alternatives that do not rely on using a single vehicle,” Rice said.

Over the course of the 30-year study, April, October, and November reflect the lowest monthly number of cars traveling into the city.

Speculation abounds about why the traffic numbers are dropping. This could be attributed to more remote workers in a post-pandemic era. This could also be a result of increased public transportation (RFTA) and the carpool system allowing carpools to stop at Brush Creek Park and Ride between 6 a.m. and 11 a.m. to receive free daily residential parking for carrying more than one person.

“Vehicle trips have dipped, but various factors can impact vehicle trip numbers, like people working from home more, construction detours, or commuters getting back onto transit after the pandemic,” said Rice.