Latest postal gripe: Driving in and out |

Latest postal gripe: Driving in and out

Allyn Harvey

Postal customers in Aspen are coping with the new traffic patternsat the post office parking lot, but not without a few gripes.”It reminds me of Beirut,” said Aspen resident Jason Farrar. “Ithink if this were any other town but Aspen, there would be bloodin the streets.”Farrar’s sentiments echoed those of many of the people interviewedduring the noon rush hour yesterday, but not everyone agreed withhim. “I don’t mind the change,” said Katerina Simankova of Aspen.”I think it’s great,” said Snowmass Village resident Aaron Thomas.”It works.”Yesterday, the day after the Presidents Day holiday, was the firstbig test of the new layout, which requires drivers to come andgo from two entrances off the parking lot at Clark’s Market. UntilFriday, when new Postmaster Jarman Smith chained off access tothe service road from the parking lot, people exited by followingthe road around the back of the post office, avoiding the busysupermarket parking lot.The change requires about two-thirds of the cars that use thelot to exit the same way they enter. Backups of three to six carsin both directions – in and out – were common Tuesday afternoon,as drivers negotiated the new arrangement and dealt with a bottleneckwhere the sidewalk extends into the parking lot, immediately adjacentto the newspaper vending machines.However the vending machines will be gone by Friday, and by springor early summer, the sidewalk extension will be gone, too. Smithsaid that engineers are currently working on ways improve trafficflow. Another proposal is to build parking over the grassy knoll infront of the main entrance at the northeast corner of the building.”This post office was built in 1980 – it wasn’t set up for 400to 500 people a day,” Smith said.The new postmaster said he is reconfiguring the traffic flow andgetting rid of the newspaper machines to comply with current postalregulations. The U.S. Postal Service owns the Puppy Smith Streetfacility, so he is required to comply with the rules. At SnowmassVillage, which is also managed by Smith, the Postal Service leasesits space, and cannot control placement of vending machines.Smith said he has so far heard only one complaint about the newtraffic flow arrangement. Aspen Police Chief Tom Stephenson hasalso fielded just one complaint, but he points out that thereis little he can do about a federally owned facility.In front of the post office, however, outside earshot of the powersthat be, postal customers were more willing to air their gripes.”I think it wasn’t good before and it’s even worse now,” saidMichele Noble. “At least there used to be a flow. Now everyonegoes out the way they came in.””It stinks,” said Patrice Plunkett. “It’ll cause a lot of accidentsover here. I was hit when they tried this once before.””It’s too early to tell,” said one man who declined to give hisname, “but I think there’s going to be trouble.”

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