Aspen electeds idling on Galena two-way concept |

Aspen electeds idling on Galena two-way concept

The Galena Plaza alley as seen facing south. A proposal is up for consideration to move the law enforcement vehicles to make way for a better pedestrian experience and a connection to town from an activated open space to the north.
Carolyn Sackariason/The Aspen Times

The redesign of Galena Plaza is slowly moving along as elected officials contemplate how much programming should be in the open space and whether the alley off of Mill Street should become a two-way thoroughfare to better accommodate the Galena Street Shuttle.

Aspen City Council on Monday heard the latest ideas from the design team, which includes city staff and the landscape architecture firm Design Workshop.

Council was hesitant to move the six Pitkin County Sheriff’s vehicles that are currently parked on the south end of the plaza area across from the courthouse to make way for a two-way road not open to the general public.

The vehicles would be moved to new parking spaces on Main Street in front of the courthouse, which is now occupied with green space and crabapple trees.

Those trees would be replaced with non-fruit-bearing ones to prevent bears from eating off of them.

The plaza redesign is prompted by the construction of the city’s new 37,500-square-foot office building in the area, and a desire by concerned citizens that there be a strong connection between Rio Grande Park and town.

As currently imagined, the project is estimated to cost $2.6 million, which is about $716,000 more than what’s been budgeted.

That cost does not include any changes to the alley, which has not been completely sussed out yet.

City staff is advocating for a two-way alley to make the shuttle service, which served 70,000 riders in 2108, more reliable and consistent.

The Galena Street Shuttle has become unreliable because of the office building construction and modifications of the upper alley south of the library.

In 2014, the alley was modified from the two-way configuration into the present one-way.

“The modification had a negative impact with shuttle schedules and timing due to the looping it created along Main Street and Mill Street,” wrote Mike Tunte, the city’s landscape architect and construction manager in the parks and open space department, in a memo to council. “In recent years, the shuttle stop has been relocated to several areas including Rio Grande (Place) due to construction, which has created frustration and confusion with users.”

Staff will come back to council with a schematic design and more options in March.

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