Pitkin County commisioners get last-minute details on USA Pro Challenge
The Aspen Times
With less than two weeks until the start of the USA Pro Challenge cycle race, Pitkin County commissioners listened to various local contingencies give their final race updates at Tuesday’s work session.
The main topics covered clarifications on emergency services and how the Aspen-Pitkin County Airport will deal with a four-hour layover.
With road closures between Aspen and Snowmass set from noon to 4 p.m. Aug. 19, local officials have been scrambling to get the word out that driving upvalley will not be an option unless it’s an emergency situation.
Several medical and law enforcement representatives reiterated one of the main points of the meeting: that emergency situations can and will be dealt with, and no one who needs access to emergency services will be turned away.
Pitkin County Sheriff Joe DiSalvo said local law enforcement has taken extreme measures to ensure the race won’t impact any emergency situation.
“Nothing involving this race is going to stop us from getting to a home when someone calls 911,” DiSalvo said. “We will get to you. We’re not going to compromise public safety.”
Brian Grefe, the airport’s assistant aviation director, said the airlines with arrivals the morning and afternoon of Aug. 19 have been contacted to give passengers a final heads-up before landing in Aspen.
The airport has plans for a four-hour party that afternoon to keep people engaged and to have them feel appreciated. There will be live music, a series of giveaways, food and drink specials and a live race feed in the terminal.
“We’re hoping to make this less of an impact for the people that might not be overly interested in the race,” Grefe said.
Nancy Lesley, the director of special events and marketing for the city of Aspen, spoke about the long-range benefits of hosting the Pro Challenge and the global exposure the race brings.
Snowmass Village Mayor Bill Boineau said many Snowmass residents are looking forward to the race and the general feedback has been positive despite a few inconveniences.
“Snowmass is ready,” Boineau said. “It’s going to be a challenge, but we’re up for it.”
Pitkin County Commissioner Rob Ittner pushed for a final clarification on access throughout Snowmass and Aspen during the race. There have been some reports that vehicles might be allowed to travel upvalley once the peloton has passed, but that’s not the case.
DiSalvo reiterated the official stance that there will be no personal vehicular access from Owl Creek Road to Aspen between noon and 4 p.m. Aug. 19, except for emergency and law enforcement vehicles.
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