One-way streets to hit Aspen
ASPEN ” Two blocks in downtown Aspen will become one-way streets beginning next month.
The Aspen City Council on Tuesday signed off on an experimental project that will temporarily convert Galena Street from Hopkins Avenue around the Paradise Bakery corner onto Cooper Avenue to Hunter Street into one-way paths. (See map.)
The move will produce a net gain of 20 parking spaces in three blocks. Parking on both sides of the one-way streets will be converted to angle parking.
The idea surfaced last month from the Commercial Core and Lodging Commission (CCLC) in an effort to increase the number of parking spaces in the downtown area. The CCLC requested that the city’s parking department also consider the area around the Wheeler Opera House, but it was determined that Mill Street and East Hyman Avenue were too narrow to convert the existing parallel parking spaces to angle parking, per the international fire code.
But Galena Street and Cooper Avenue are wide enough to convert, and it won’t take much to make the switch by June 1, said Tim Ware, City Hall’s director of parking and transportation.
“It would not take a lot of effort or money on our part,” he told the council.
A transportation engineer will work with Ware on proper signage to give motorists advance warning of the one-way streets. Ware said the parking department has the traffic control devices to covert the required signs and will pay to communicate with the public in newspaper ads.
Ware will come back to the council in September with the results of how the experiment worked.
Councilman Jack Johnson said he wants to see how feasible making one-way streets throughout the commercial core is and he thinks that an entire study should be done. He also expressed concern that because the area to be converted is confusing as a result of the pedestrian malls, a further study might be dismissed in the future.
“If the goal is to increase the parking, then there are certainly more opportunities,” Johnson said.
Councilman Steve Skadron asked about how the public is going to be educated on the change.
Ware responded by saying an advertising campaign will reach out to the public at large and city officials will go door-to-door at local businesses, informing them of the one-way streets.
City engineer Trish Aragon said she’s concerned that more angle parking will cause more traffic accidents, citing an earlier study that indicates 41 percent of all automobile accidents in town are a result of head-in parking. The majority of those accidents were fender-benders.
The council directed Ware to hire a traffic engineer if he believes that it’s warranted, particularly if a larger study is done.
Community Development Director Chris Bendon said a study conducted 12 years ago contemplated one-way streets throughout the downtown core. He asked the council to keep in mind that with angle parking, it’s more difficult for pedestrians to see beyond vehicles, which are larger than they once were. Back-up accidents might become more frequent as a result of the sight limitation, he added.
Aspen Police Chief Richard Pryor said there are so few pedestrian versus car accidents in town that he doesn’t perceive an increased risk.
“It’s not high on our radar screen,” he said.
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