Golf club looking to drive housing traffic elsewhere
The owners of the Maroon Creek Club are trying to convince Aspen officials to reopen the intersection of “Old Stage Road” and Highway 82 to handle traffic to and from the Burlingame Ranch affordable housing projects.
Or, barring that, the club owners want local officials to find some other way of getting traffic from the housing projects to Highway 82, without putting it on a road through the middle of the golf club.
But government officials aren’t sure they can oblige.
At Monday night’s Aspen City Council meeting, attorney Mickey Herron appeared representing the Maroon Creek Club and cited his client’s concerns about the traffic issue.
He noted his client is worried that the traffic from a proposed 200-bed seasonal housing complex, and from the proposed 225-unit Burlingame Village affordable housing neighborhood nearby, would overwhelm the New Stage Road that winds through the Maroon Creek Club grounds. New Stage Road was created as part of the Maroon Creek Club’s planned unit development approvals, in exchange for closure of the historic Old Stage Road that once connected to Highway 82 opposite the current intersection of the highway and Owl Creek Road.
Presently, New Stage Road is used by the residents of the Maroon Creek Club affordable housing complex as well as club members and guests. It also provides access to several private homes, including the Zoline ranch houses and the homes down on the Maroon Creek Valley floor.
Herron said that at present, there are 1,300 crossings by either golf carts or pedestrians per day at the point where New Stage Road passes the clubhouse.
Citing news reports about the potential traffic impacts from the Burlingame projects, he suggested the projects could generate between 2,800 and 4,500 vehicle trips per day.
Arguing that the road was built to accommodate traffic loads associated with the golf course, as well as a minimum number of nearby residential homes, Herron said the city should “insist on [the Colorado Department of Transportation] doing what’s necessary to reopen Old Stage Road. We feel the solution that works the best for everyone is that solution.”
Herron also recommended that, if New Stage Road is used as the access to Burlingame, an overpass for golf carts and pedestrians should be built leading from the clubhouse over New Stage Road.
While Herron mentioned his clients’ feelings that there is a “severe legal problem” involving the traffic issues, he declined to say later whether the club is preparing to sue the city over the matter.
Others at the meeting, however, argued that the traffic patterns associated with the seasonal housing, at least, match well with the traffic patterns at the club.
Planning consultant Jim Curtis, who is managing the seasonal housing project application for the Music Associates of Aspen, said that music students will be living there in the summers, and that they characteristically do not bring cars with them. So in the summers, when the Maroon Creek Club’s own traffic is at its highest volume, the traffic from the seasonal housing will be at its lowest level.
And in the winters, he said, the seasonal housing traffic volumes may rise, but club-related traffic is practically nonexistent. Curtis said he could not say what traffic problems might arise if the larger Burlingame Village affordable housing project also is built near the club.
Ralph Trapani, CDOT project manager for the expansion of Highway 82, said Tuesday he does not agree with Herron’s assessment.
He said that as far as CDOT is concerned, the Old Stage Road connection to Highway 82 is “dead. I mean, it’s closed.” He said CDOT applauded the closure because it is planning to move the Owl Creek Road intersection with Highway 82 farther to the east. It is to be consolidated with the Buttermilk ski area parking lot exit and West Buttermilk subdivision’s access road, creating one intersection controlled by a traffic signal.
“That is part of good road design – consolidating intersections,” Trapani said.
Trapani also opposes a proposal to reroute Old Stage Road to connect with the new Buttermilk/Owl Creek Road alignment, as the “fourth leg” of a four-way, signalized intersection. Current plans call only for three-way traffic flow – from Buttermilk and from two directions on Highway 82.
Trapani said that to add a fourth leg to the intersection will unnecessarily slow traffic moving up and down the highway, because “what you’ll end up with is a lot of left turns going into Aspen.” That would mean the light for Highway 82 traffic would need to stay red longer than if there was no “fourth leg,” he said.
As for Herron’s contention that the traffic from the Burlingame projects would overwhelm the New Stage Road, Trapani said that simply is not true. He said the road, and the underpass and interchange with Highway 82, are designed to handle the kind of traffic volumes being discussed.
“It’s a public road,” he added. “It’s a public interchange.”
The City Council is “open to looking at any and all options” regarding the road, said City Manager Amy Margerum on Tuesday.
County roads official Stan Berryman said he agrees with Trapani, and feels the “best available option, the least expensive option, is to use the existing road [New Stage Road]” and possibly build an overpass for golf carts and pedestrians adjacent to the clubhouse.
But Herron said his clients intend to continue to fight to keep Burlingame traffic off the road that goes through the Maroon Creek Club.
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