Get ready: Roundabout construction, traffic delays set to begin next week |

Get ready: Roundabout construction, traffic delays set to begin next week

The construction on the Aspen roundabout is ramping up as the town enters off season on Wednesday, April 20, 2022. (Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times)

After about a month of preliminary work, crews will begin actually tearing up and rebuilding the roundabout west of Aspen on Monday.

That’s when the real traffic delays and a voluntary detour along McLain Flats Road will begin, according to a Colorado Department of Transportation spokeswoman.

CDOT crews will finish paving a temporary traffic lane on the outside of the roundabout Friday, which will handle the traffic flow while the roundabout’s asphalt surface is removed and replaced by concrete through mid- to late June, said Tracy Trulove. That temporary lane will be removed after the roundabout reconstruction is completed.

In the meantime, CDOT will activate the voluntary detour with traffic control and flaggers in place in the eastbound lanes of Highway 82 where it meets Smith Hill Way during peak morning travel hours. Posted speed limits will be 40 mph between 6 and 9 a.m. Monday through Friday in that area to help facilitate traffic turning on to Smith Hill Way to utilize the detour, according to a CDOT news release.

Passenger cars and trucks will be able to either take the detour from Smith Hill Way to McLain Flats to Cemetery Lane and back to Highway 82, or they can stay on Highway 82 all the way into Aspen. Buses, freight and commercial vehicles will be required to remain on Highway 82 and are prohibited on McLain Flats Road.

Flaggers will not direct traffic one way or the other, with passenger car drivers allowed to choose which route they will take, according to CDOT.

Crews also will be updating traffic signal controls between the Aspen Business Center and Truscott at night this week to accommodate the roundabout construction. Signals will be in flash mode or turned off completely during that work with flaggers posted to direct traffic at the intersections.

Once the roundabout reconstruction begins, drivers who pass through the area should plan on an additional 15 to 30 minutes in travel time, according to the news release. Eastbound or upvalley traffic lane closures will be in place between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, while westbound or downvalley traffic lane closures will be in place between 7 a.m. and 3 p.m. each weekday.

“Considerable vehicle congestion can be expected, including long delays due to the volume of traffic that travels through the Maroon Creek Roundabout and roadways that feed it,” the release states. “Commuters are encouraged to ride (Roaring Fork Transportation Authority buses), either from the communities in which they live or from the Brush Creek Park and Ride (parking lot at Highway 82 and Brush Creek Road).”

RFTA bus service to Aspen or Snowmass Village from the Brush Creek lot is free and parking at the lot also is free.

Large potholes gather water as the snow melts on the roundabout outside of Aspen on Tuesday, March 1, 2022. (Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times)

The roundabout reconstruction in concrete — which is far more durable than asphalt — is meant to eliminate the frequent potholes that appear at the roundabout each winter and must be continually repaired. Asphalt typically lasts two to three years, while concrete is said to hold up at least 20 years.

The nearly $2.6 million reconstruction is being paid for by CDOT, the city of Aspen, Pitkin County, RFTA and the Elected Officials Transportation Committee. Work on the project will stop during Aspen Food and Wine (June 17-19) and the Aspen Ideas Festival (June 25-July 1), and the contractor must be finished with the roundabout by the end of June.

Bicyclists who frequent McLain Flats Road will likely want to rethink that route as traffic is expected to be heavy during weekdays.

After the roundabout is completed, CDOT crews will repave Highway 82 between the ABC and the Maroon Creek Bridge from July to September, though that activity will take place at night to cut down on traffic delays. After Labor Day, CDOT plans to work on the Castle Creek Bridge for four to five weeks, causing further traffic delays in and out of Aspen.