Entrance to Aspen construction to end this week | AspenTimes.com

Entrance to Aspen construction to end this week

Construction on the Castle Creek Bridge is in its final week and commuters who have been dealing with the four-month project, along with city officials in charge of it, are counting down the days.

The corridor improvement project is set to finish Friday (weather-permitting), with minor bus shelter work going into next week. The new shelters at Eighth and Seventh streets are expected to open Nov. 17, according to project manager Pete Rice for the city of Aspen.

The project, which includes new concrete S-curves, was originally scheduled for completion on Oct. 31 but inclement weather delayed the finish by a couple of weeks.

That was aided by the city's decision to accommodate tourists and businesses by restarting construction after Labor Day instead of the original plan of sometime in August.

The project was done in phases to be less impactful during the on season. Construction occurred from the beginning of April to mid-June, and then resumed in September.

"We really needed from Aug. 9, to be honest," Rice said.

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The signature component of the project is the widened sidewalk on the north side of the bridge. City Council approved the $4.65 million project in January with the intent of improving the corridor for pedestrians and bicyclists.

That meant expanding the sidewalk on the bridge by almost 3 feet. The sidewalk used to be 4 feet wide; now it is 6 feet, 10 inches, which doesn't include the section where new railing has been installed.

Council saw the bridge as a key component connecting Bugsy Barnard Park and the city's trail system to the west. Improved sidewalks around new bus stops also were key aspects.

The bridge sidewalk was opened last week to the public.

"As soon as (Pete) opened it, people were going on it," City Engineer Trish Aragon said. "A lot of people are using it already."

The work that's being finished this week is on the bridge's south sidewalk, which is getting a railing to match the one on the other side.

"Everyone will be out of there by Nov. 9," Aragon said, adding crews will be doing the finishing touches on the two new bus shelters into next week. "But it won't impede traffic."

And in the minds of motorists, that's probably all that matters.

"We want to thank the traveling public for their patience," Aragon said.

She noted that changes to the bridge and the Hallam Street corridor are subtle, but in totality are a big improvement to the entrance to town.

"You can't tell the extent of the work we've been doing," Aragon said.

Crews working for general contractor Gould Construction and the city had more than it bargained for when they got below the surface and had to deal with decades-old utility lines and buried material from the 1950s.

Most of the project's contingency funds went to that unplanned work, Rice said, adding that was about $400,000, or 9 percent of the total cost.

There aren't any additional costs for the delays, according to Rice.

But what did cost the city more money was council's decision earlier this year to use concrete at the S-curve near the Hickory House restaurant. That element of the project cost $678,000. The concrete section is similar in size to the one that was done at Seventh and Hallam streets.

Concrete is superior to asphalt because it can last 20 years before maintenance is required, according to city officials. Asphalt, which is prone to potholes forming, is typically maintained every three to four years.

csackariason@aspentimes.com

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