Pitco also to weigh in on entrance | AspenTimes.com

Pitco also to weigh in on entrance

Pitkin County plans to crash the city of Aspen’s party at the Entrance to Aspen.

The county commissioners set the stage yesterday to allow county voters ? and commuters ? to sound off on what to do with the controversial entrance. It is the last two-lane stretch of highway between Glenwood Springs and Aspen without a redevelopment completed or under way.

The commissioners plan to place a ballot question before voters this November that is identical to the question expected to go before Aspen voters. They said the last-minute action was needed to allow at least some of the downvalley commuters who actually drive through the Entrance to Aspen to have a voice.

“You can call it the Entrance to Aspen, or the Exit to Pitkin County ? it goes both ways,” said County Commissioner Mick Ireland.

Ireland and his colleagues agreed that county voters should have a say, because they use the highway as much as anyone, and their tax dollars go to support the regional bus system, which is profoundly affected by traffic jams caused by the S-curves.

On Monday, a split Aspen City Council approved language for the general election ballot that may be the most simply worded ballot question ever crafted for a transportation issue involving Aspen and Highway 82. It will read:

“Which alignment for the Entrance to Aspen do you prefer? (Choose only one.) ‘S’ Curves (existing alignment); or Modified Direct alignment across the Marolt/Thomas Open Space?”

Both the city and county questions are nonbinding for state and local officials.

The city recently conveyed the right of way across the Marolt/Thomas open space, the fields between the golf course and the hospital, to the Colorado Department of Transportation. But CDOT officials, who are struggling with a massive budget shortfall, have said they will not spend money to realign the highway if voters aren’t behind the project.

“A lot of people who are forced to commute through the S-curves obviously live in Pitkin County and beyond, and I would like to hear what they have to say,” said Aspen City Councilman Tony Hershey, a supporter of the Modified Direct alignment, commonly referred to as the straight shot.

[Allyn Harvey’s e-mail address is aharvey@aspentimes.com]

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