On the Record: Some Aspenites wary of Castle Creek bridge experiment
Editor’s note: On the Record is a recap of citizen comments made at Aspen City Council’s regular meetings. The council’s next regular meeting is set for April 11.
Transportation was on the minds of several Aspen residents who spoke during the public comment portion of Monday’s City County meeting.
The City Council approved expenditures associated with the so-called living lab experiment, a $193,454 project on the Castle Creek bridge that begins in April and ends in late July.
Before the council approved the expenditures on its consent agenda, residents Mike Maple and Pam Alexander cautioned the city about the experiment, but with different concerns.
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Maple argued that Hallam Street, which links the bridge to the S-curves, should also be part of the experiment to get a better sense of whether it will work.
“I urge you to expand the living lab to include that section of the roadway,” he said.
Alexander urged the city not to make the bridge more pedestrian friendly, but rather focus on the numerous trails throughout Aspen that many people might not use.
Turning Hallam in to a pedestrian bikeway — similar to the one on West Hopkins Avenue that serves as a gateway to the Marolt Bridge — could funnel vehicles out of the West End and onto an already busy Main Street, Alexander said.
Having an extensive network of trail signs would encourage visitors and locals to stay off the roads that are congested enough, she said.
“Let’s maximize our use of that first before we do something that could potentially harm our environment,” she said.
Alexander also said that other than Aspen’s cycling community, many residents are unaware of what’s to come next month.
The April through July test bridge will include 7-foot-wide decking for pedestrians and cyclists. Water-filled jersey barriers will separate the path from the east- and west-bound traffic lanes. The Colorado Department of Transportation has approved the test project.
The experiment is being done to see if narrowing the traffic lanes from 12 to 11 feet, combined with a more pedestrian friendly Castle Creek bridge, is functional, efficient and safe. If it is, the city could proceed in 2017 with the bridge remodel as well as reconfiguring the two bus stops on the two-block of Hallam Street, along with a slight realignment of the street.
City officials have maintained that the bridge is too unsafe for pedestrians and bicyclists who cross it to access Hallam Street, Cemetery Lane and the nearby Marolt and Aspen Golf Course trails.
At Monday’s meeting, the City Council signed off on a $49,589 contract with Silt-based A1 Traffic Control and Barricade Inc., which will provide traffic control and set up the jersey barriers during the experiment.
The council also approved a $30,000 contract with Greeley-based JAG’S Enterprises Inc., which will handle the temporary concrete infill that will widen the pedestrian section of the bridge to 71/2 feet during the experiment.
Other residents spoke about transportation as well, including Lisa Markalunas, who urged the city to extend the hours of the free crosstown shuttle from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m.
Markalunas also had a three-page petition with the signatures of West End residents who want the service extended. The extra two hours would provide residents with a chance to stay out later without having to drive into town, she said.
“Generally it all comes down to finances, so if there’s a way to do it, we’ll find a way,” Mayor Steve Skadron said.
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