New entrance plan: Ask for a new bridge | AspenTimes.com

New entrance plan: Ask for a new bridge

Janet Urquhart
Aspen Times Staff Writer

Aspen Mayor Helen Klanderud said she will poll her fellow council members Monday on whether they’d like to urge the state to move ahead with one component of the Entrance to Aspen ? a new Maroon Creek bridge.

Klanderud said she will ask the council if city staffers should be directed to draft a resolution in support of the bridge project.

“It would reaffirm our commitment to proceeding with the Maroon Creek bridge,” she said.

That element alone has had the full support of the council in the past, she noted, though council members are sharply split on the Entrance to Aspen as a whole.

The existing bridge, which carries Highway 82 traffic over the Maroon Creek gorge, was built in 1888 as a railroad trestle. It is pegged for replacement as part of an Entrance to Aspen project that would realign the highway over open space between the roundabout and the upper end of Main Street. A second, new bridge over Castle Creek is also part of that project.

The council considered a similar resolution in support of the Maroon Creek bridge replacement last year, but a split council wound up endorsing state funding for the entire entrance project instead. On Tuesday, Aspen and Pitkin County voters rejected the new alignment for the Entrance to Aspen.

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The estimated cost of the new bridge, in 2001 dollars, is $12.9 million. The approach work is estimated at $10.8 million, according to a position paper on the entrance recently drafted by the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority.

The Entrance to Aspen plans call for construction of the new bridge to the north of the existing bridge, where the pedestrian bridge is now. The new bridge would carry two lanes of vehicle traffic, while the old bridge was to be retained for light rail.

Councilman Tom McCabe said he wonders if the Colorado Department of Transportation would be willing to separate the bridge project from the rest of the entrance plan.

“I had been considering the Entrance to Aspen as a package deal, though the Maroon Creek bridge certainly needs to be replaced,” he said. “I’m not sure they [CDOT] would do it as a stand-alone component without transit.”

If CDOT were to build the bridge component, it could construct dedicated bus lanes, along with two lanes of general traffic, between Buttermilk and the roundabout, crossing the new Maroon Creek span, said Randy Ready, assistant city manager.

That option would provide a transit component, but it would require a public vote, as the bus lanes would eat up some open space, Ready said.

From the roundabout into Aspen, all traffic would funnel onto two-lane Highway 82 through the existing S-curves.

The existing Maroon Creek bridge would be taken out of use, but remain there to accommodate the future light-rail line, if it is ever built, Ready said.