S-curves test – it’s baaack | AspenTimes.com

S-curves test – it’s baaack

The entrance to Aspen, mainly the highway's S-curves, has been debated for more than 40 years.
Aspen Times file |

The traffic experiment that bears repeating will be repeated, starting Monday with the return of left-turn restrictions off Cemetery Lane at Highway 82.Aspen will run a three-phase, three-week trial to see if highway traffic flow can be improved during the morning and afternoon commutes. The first trial run took place for two weeks in late May and early June, when left turns off Cemetery Lane were prohibited during peak hours of the morning and afternoon, and various side street and alley intersections with the highway in the S-curves were blocked. Both measures were tried concurrently.This time, the city will try just the Cemetery Lane turn restriction for a week, then both the turn restriction and the closed intersections in the S-curves for a week, and then give just the intersection closures a try for the final week.

The other big difference in this second run of the experiment will be the traffic – roughly 28,000 vehicles per day going in and out of town as opposed to 19,000 to 20,000 a day during the first test.”Your talking about August, as opposed to the end of May, beginning of June. Obviously traffic will be increased,” said John Krueger, city transportation director. “How that will have an effect, one way or the other, I don’t know. I think that’s why we’re doing it.”Hopefully, the community will participate in the spirit of the experiment. This is a trial,” he said.The spring experiment improved highway flows in the morning, but had less impact during the afternoon, according to a traffic engineer’s assessment. At that time of year, though, afternoon traffic isn’t backed up on Main Street down to the Hotel Jerome.

During the first trial run, many Cemetery Lane neighborhood residents refused to make the right turn onto Highway 82 and circle around the Maroon Creek roundabout to return toward town. Instead, they used Power Plant Road to go back and forth to Aspen, spiking traffic counts on that road.Traffic counters will be in place on the road, but it won’t be blocked to travel. The city is simply asking motorists not to detour through the West End so it can assess the true impacts of the demonstration project.”I’m actually very disappointed in Cemetery Lane residents who do that,” said City Councilman Torre in reviewing the first trial run. “They’re avoiding even trying this experiment.”The S-curves demonstration project that begins next week will look like this:

Aug. 8-12 and Aug. 15-19: Left turns from Cemetery Lane onto Highway 82 will be prohibited from 7 to 10 a.m. and 3 to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday. Aug. 15-26: The following access points to Highway 82 will be closed continuously: Hallam Street at Seventh Street, Bleeker Street at Seventh Street, the alley between Hallam and Bleeker, the alley between Bleeker and Main Street, and Eighth Street at Hallam (right turns in and out will be permitted).Janet Urquhart’s e-mail address is janet@aspentimes.com

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