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Pedestrian bridges will be built this fall

Allyn Harvey Aspen Times Staff Writer

Despite some recent objections, two new pedestrian bridges, a pond and an extensive revegetation effort that are the finishing touches to the roundabout project will be completed this fall.

The Pitkin County commissioners approved an additional $250,000 to help pay for the bridges yesterday. The bridges will cross Maroon Creek and Castle Creek roads near the roundabout. They will connect the pedestrian/bicycle trails that run to the hospital, the schools, and both directions along Highway 82.

“We want to encourage people to walk or ride their bicycles. That’s been the plan all along – to provide a seamless system of trails,” said Kevin Dunnett, a planner with the city parks department.

But the plan has has run into some opposition from residents of Maroon Creek and Castle Creek who are worried that they will be both ugly and unused. About a half-dozen residents showed up at an administrative hearing last week to protest the Castle Creek bridge, expressing concerns with its effects on the views of the Aspen Chapel and the Castle Creek Valley.

They continued their protests with letters to the editor in both local newspapers. “Not only will they look out of place, do you really think that small kids or any kids will ride up a steep ramp/hill to get to school?” asked Lorna Pedersen, in a letter to the editor.

Pedersen suggests that a flashing light on both roads will suffice in place of the bridges, which between the contributions of the city of Aspen and the county are expected to cost a total of $1,146,090. Other residents have suggested that underpasses should be built instead of overpasses.

Dunnett told the commissioners that costs will be significantly higher if the project is delayed or redesigned for underpasses.

He pointed out that a contractor is currently working on the revegetation of the property that was used as a staging and storage area during construction of the roundabout, and they are able to build the ramps and bridges this year. If they have to return next year to do it, Dunnett said, there will be additional costs.

Underpasses would add hundreds of thousands of dollars to the cost of the project, mostly because of utility lines, a water main and a sewer main that run along Castle Creek Road. Dunnett added that the construction of underpasses would disrupt traffic for months, while the bridges will be built off site and can be fitted on their abutments in an evening or two.

The Maroon Creek bridge fits between the two hills on either side of the road, and little ramp building will be necessary. The trail will then be cut in front of the chapel and remain elevated above Castle Creek Road except on the north side.

Dunnett pointed out that the ramp leading out of the Marolt Open Space will be built to standards set by the Americans with Disabilities Act, which limits the elevation of the ramp to one foot up for every 20 feet forward.

The bridges will have a clearance of 15 feet, 6 inches, and the railings will be about 20 feet above the road. They are expected to be finished by the end of the summer construction season.


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