Official fears ‘speed trap’ in Basalt
Basalt Councilman Glenn Rappaport is concerned about the town developing a reputation for operating a “speed trap” on one of its most heavily traveled roads.
Rappaport said at a Town Council meeting this week that he is getting complaints about officers writing tickets for speeding on the west end of Two Rivers Road, where the speed slows to 25 mph well before the intersection of Highway 82 for traffic heading downvalley. For upvalley-bound traffic, the speed limit remains at 25 mph for an extended stretch after exiting off Highway 82. The speed limit is 25 mph even though it has a faster feel for drivers, Rappaport said.
“I’m getting a bunch of calls about the number of traffic stops we’re making,” Rappaport said.
Instead of writing tickets, he said he would prefer to see the town add design elements that slow traffic if a slower limit is warranted. Rappaport mentioned Cemetery Lane in Aspen as a model for traffic calming. The city added speed bumps as well as painted lines on the approaches to the bumps to encourage drivers to slow down. There are also well-defined pedestrian crossings.
Basalt Town Manager Mike Scanlon isn’t sold on traffic-calming measures.
“Enforcement is really better than speed bumps,” Scanlon told the council. The best way to get commuters to pay attention to speed limits in a problem area is to set a speed limit and strictly enforce it, he said.
The town has ordered traffic counters that also measure the speeds of passing vehicles, Scanlon said. He urged the council to give the staff time to install a counter on Two Rivers Road, among other places, for at least two weeks and study traffic speeds and patterns. That will allow the council to make a better-educated decision on design features or enforcement.
Scanlon made it clear what direction he favors.
“I’ve really found that enforcement is less expensive and works just as well,” he said.
In another traffic matter, Rappaport urged the town staff to convert the intersection of East Valley Road and Harris Street in Willits Town Center into a four-way stop. Currently traffic on East Valley Road isn’t required to stop. The intersection is located in front of Basalt Bike and Ski, a short distance from three popular restaurants in Willits Town Center. It handles a lot of traffic as well as pedestrians.
Rappaport said the town shouldn’t wait until there is an accident involving a pedestrian before it makes changes to the intersection.
Scanlon said the town is working with Tim Belinski, a representative of the Willits Town Center developer, to develop solutions. A traffic counter that monitors speeds will be set up at that intersection, as well, he said.
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Contact with two presumed positive COVID-19 cases has led to 65 students and staff at Basalt Elementary School transitioning to remote instruction.