Main Street to get fourth light |

Main Street to get fourth light

Janet Urquhart

Aspen’s busy Main Street is poised to get its fourth signalized intersection next year – at its intersection with Galena Street.

The city’s plan for a pedestrian-activated crossing signal on the east side of the intersection, which would halt Main Street traffic periodically for pedestrians crossing the street, has been upgraded to a full-fledged, four-way signalized intersection, according to Nick Adeh, city engineer.

Given traffic volumes and safety concerns at the intersection, the Colorado Department of Transportation feels a full-blown signal system is needed, Adeh said.

The new plan will go to the City Council for review tonight.

“Our choice appears to be a full signal or nothing,” said City Manager Steve Barwick.

Currently, all that exists for pedestrians at the intersection is a crosswalk across Main Street and a sign mounted on an orange construction barrel directing motorists to stop for pedestrians.

“A lot of out-of-town people don’t know pedestrians have priority – they just zip through,” Adeh said.

Initial plans for a simple signal to aid pedestrians were then expanded to accommodate fire trucks and the Galena Street Shuttle. Devices were to be mounted on fire trucks and the shuttle that would activate the Main Street light and allow the vehicles to get out onto Main from Galena Street.

After looking at the city’s proposal, CDOT requested full signalization and agreed to put up $150,000 for the project. The city has budgeted $100,000 toward a signal system there, Adeh said.

The Aspen Volunteer Fire Department currently turns onto Main Street at the busy Mill Street intersection. Mill is narrow, and the congested intersection slows emergency vehicles, according to Adeh.

The fire department is interested in using Galena Street to make the turn onto Main Street instead, he said.

In addition, the Galena Street Shuttle’s route crosses Main Street to access the plaza above the Rio Grande Parking Garage.

“That bus sits there forever until it sees a clear path to cross Main Street,” Adeh said.

If the City Council approves the intersection plan, the signals will likely be installed next spring or summer, he said.

CDOT will then synchronize all four signalized intersections on Main Street to coordinate traffic movement, Adeh said. Signals at Galena Street could alleviate some of the congestion at Mill and Main, he added.

The actual design work for the Galena Street intersection has not yet begun, according to Jim Nall, CDOT’s Region 3 traffic and safety manager.

“Our wish is to try to make sure whatever we put there best fits within the character of Aspen, but yet it has to fit within certain standards,” he said.

While pedestrian-activated crossings like the one the city was planning can be acceptable at mid-block locations, they are not used at intersections, Nall said.

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