Maroon Creek bridge off back burner
An Aspen official sat down with state and federal highway representatives this week to initiate the latest round of discussions on replacing the Maroon Creek bridge.Upper-valley governments agreed early this year to spend $1.5 million to finish the design work for a new bridge, though funds to construct it are unavailable.On Wednesday, Assistant City Manager Randy Ready met with a Federal Highway Administration official from Denver and Joe Elsen, Region 3 program engineer with the Colorado Department of Transportation, to discuss the state and federal procedures that must be followed as the work moves forward.It was likely the first of several meetings that will take place this summer, before any local dollars are actually spent on preparing construction plans, Ready said.”It’s also a question of timing,” he said. “Can it be built? Is the funding on the horizon? There’s no easy answer to that.”The funding is a complication in this. We don’t know if we’re designing something to be built next year or in 10 years.””I think the point is, we want to make certain everyone is on board – that we don’t proceed with spending a significant amount of money and then the project doesn’t go anywhere,” said Mayor Helen Klanderud.Actually, the city has yet to make sure the voters are on board. The latest bridge plan will require a ballot measure authorizing use of open space in the Maroon Creek gorge for a four-lane span with two lanes for general traffic and two dedicated bus lanes, plus a pedestrian/bike lane.The City Council could choose to put the necessary question on the ballot in November.The new bridge will cost an estimated $25 million; the project may involve state and federal dollars.CDOT spent about $140,000 on preliminary engineering for the project last year, but said it had no funds to put toward the final design work or actual construction.The new bridge would be built alongside the existing 116-year-old bridge, which was originally a railroad trestle. The road base would be removed from the historic bridge, but the bridge would be retained for a potential, future light-rail line.Janet Urquhart’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
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