Stoplight repair at Aspen airport intersection may take weeks or months
The toppled stoplight at Highway 82 and the Aspen Business Center can be repaired, though it might not be functional until as late as the end of this summer, an official said Thursday.
That was the verdict after the results of an inspection of the stoplight pole and arm, which are lying by the side of the highway, indicated they can be reused and won’t have to be replaced, which could have taken a year or more, said Elise Thatcher, spokesperson for the Colorado Department of Transportation.
“At this time, the earliest we could have the signal back up and running could be when the ground thaws and as late as the end of summer,” Thatcher said in an email Thursday to The Aspen Times.
The stoplight controlling the upvalley lanes of Highway 82 was brought down in the early-morning hours of Feb. 5 by a city of Aspen dump truck, which went through the intersection with its bed raised. The truck has just dropped a load of snow at the snow dump near Pitkin County’s Public Works facility and was heading back to town.
As a result, a far-smaller and less-visible temporary stoplight controls upvalley traffic at the ABC/Aspen airport light. Besides that, the safety hazard is imposed on upvalley drivers who turn left into the ABC, said Brian Pettet, Pitkin County’s public works director.
Those drivers must now abide by a left-turn arrow located on the north, or ABC side, of the highway that is not immediately apparent because it’s not in the spot on the stoplight arm a driver might normally look, he said. Those drivers must turn about 25 degrees to the left to see the arrow.
“That’s a concern,” Pettet said. “Also (the temporary light) doesn’t extend over the highway as far as the (normal light) so … it’s inconsistent with other signals up and down 82. That could be a concern.”
He said 22,000 vehicles go through the intersection each day.
Thatcher said CDOT officials have heard the safety concerns about the intersection and consider repairing the light to be a top priority.
The possible extended timeframe for getting the repair done is because the dump truck hit the light with enough force to turn the concrete holding the stoplight pole in the ground and displace the electrical conduit going to the light, Thatcher has said.
To repair it, CDOT will have to dig another hole for the pole’s concrete footing, she said. However the location of that hole will be determined by the location of other utilities in the area.
“It’s possible we will have to locate the new hole further away from the existing one,” Thatcher said. “That could create a scenario where the arm … is too short or too long. Either of those outcomes could create a delay.”
Reinstalling the light will cost more than $30,000, she said.
Thatcher declined to comment on whether CDOT will file a claim against the city of Aspen to recoup the costs for the damage.
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