New Maroon Creek Bridge won’t see vehicles until fall ’08 | AspenTimes.com

New Maroon Creek Bridge won’t see vehicles until fall ’08

John Colson
Aspen, CO Colorado

ASPEN ” The platform of the new Maroon Creek Bridge will be completed this fall, but cars and buses won’t be driving over it for another year, officials said on Friday.

It is possible that part of the bridge will be opened to pedestrian and bicycle traffic during the winter, said Brian Pettet, Pitkin County public works director, but that depends on how soon highway crews can get guardrails and other safety features ready.

“We’re playing that one by ear,” Pettet said on Friday.

The final major concrete pour, tying together the two halves of the bridge that will carry traffic to and from Aspen from the west, is scheduled to be completed within the next two weeks, weather permitting. Final touches to the bridge project, including guardrails, striping, etc., will be completed during the winter, according to a statement from Pitkin County.

Construction of the highway approaches to the new bridge are part of a related project to build bus lanes between the Buttermilk Ski Area and the Castle/Maroon roundabout, which is to be started next April and completed in the fall of 2008.

All told, the two projects are expected to cost a total of $20 million, roughly $8 million of which is to pay for the bus lanes.

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The Colorado Department of Transportation is funding the bridge project itself, while the Elected Officials Transportation Committee (EOTC) is paying for the bus-lane project. The EOTC is made up of elected representatives from Aspen, Snowmass Village and Pitkin County, and is in charge of spending the proceeds of a half-cent tax assessed by the county.

Pettet said the grand opening of the much anticipated bridge is deliberately planned to coincide with the completion of the bus-lane expansion.

“With another big road construction project ” the bus lane ” poised to begin, we decided it would save money, time and driver confusion to wait to open the new bridge until the bus lanes are completed in the fall of 2008,” Pettet said.

Traffic flow likely will be affected when the bus lane project gets under way in April 2008. Officials are hoping that most of the construction will occur off to the side of Highway 82, but intermittent traffic stops for trucks and other equipment will be necessary, and traffic is expected to move more slowly during construction.

“We hope the bus lane to the roundabout will be the first step toward completion of the Entrance to Aspen project that has been so hotly debated in recent years,” Pettet said.

John Colson’s e-mail address is jcolson@aspentimes.com.