Ready to roll on the roundabout |

Ready to roll on the roundabout

Allyn Harvey

As if commuters won’t have enough to deal with during construction at Holland Hills and Shale Bluffs, drivers are also going to run into delays on the homestretch into Aspen.

On Friday, the city of Aspen will publish a request for bids to build a roundabout at the intersection of Highway 82 and Maroon Creek Road. The project, which at one time stirred up a fair amount of controversy, includes a transit lane from the Maroon Creek Bridge to the intersection.

It also marks the beginning of work on the Entrance to Aspen.

Construction will begin in mid-May and is currently planned to end Nov. 15. Pitkin County Public Works Director Stan Berryman said at Thursday’s Elected Officials Transportation Committee meeting that night construction could cut the length of the project considerably.

A roundabout is a form of traffic control that is more common in the eastern United States and Europe. It is used at busy intersections as an alternative to traffic lights. A concrete circle sits at the center of the intersection with one or two or even five lanes around it.

Roundabouts are considered more efficient in some circumstances, because traffic keeps moving. Roundabouts have been quite successful in alleviating backups at Vail.

“Experience elsewhere – as far as Vail and Avon anyway – is people learn how to use them quickly,” said Assistant City Manager Randy Ready. “The rule of thumb is you yield on entry. Everything else just flows.”

The roundabout on Highway 82 will be 140 feet across, expanding the footprint of the intersection considerably. A sewer pipe that runs parallel to the highway at the edge of the golf course will be relocated with the project. Several cottonwood trees will also be lost, Berryman said.

Accompanying the project will be a transit transfer station – commonly known as a Kiss ‘n’ Ride lot – on the southwest corner. Employees of the school district and Colorado Mountain College who live downvalley will be able to change buses at the Maroon Creek intersection instead of at Eighth Street in Aspen.

The city and county are fronting the money for the project, but expect most of it to be reimbursed next year by the Colorado Department of Transportation. Ready said reimbursement of landscaping costs aren’t a sure thing.

“What we’re going to want to do would probably exceed what CDOT would do at other projects around the state,” Ready said.

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