Streets near the malls to close tonight |

Streets near the malls to close tonight

Well before the clocks strike midnight tonight, Aspen police will have shut down all automobile traffic around the malls in the center of town.

In addition, there will be a 13-hour parking ban in effect on certain streets, starting at 6 p.m., as local police work to cope with whatever trouble might arise thanks to the millennium bug.

As the city of Aspen prepared on Thursday for the much-debated changeover from 1999 to 2000 tonight, local public safety agencies were issuing rapid-fire press releases as details changed.

The following is a rundown of the latest information issued by the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office, which is acting as the main channel for public announcements about the New Year’s festivities and the impact of the “Y2K bug.” No cars allowed In the interest of safety, according to Pitkin County Deputy Sheriff Ellen Anderson, public information officer for Y2K-related matters, police are prohibiting traffic on several streets starting at 9 p.m.

The car ban will be in effect along Galena Street southbound from the intersection with Hopkins Avenue, around the corner onto Cooper Avenue and eastward to the corner of Cooper and Hunter streets.

Cars also will be barred on Mill Street from Hopkins to Hyman Avenue, around the corner onto Hyman and west to Monarch Street.

Durant Avenue will be open to traffic, Anderson said.

The traffic rules, according to Aspen Police Department Operations Section Chief Jim Crowley, are to prevent unwanted congestion at intersections that traditionally have drawn huge crowds for holiday events.

“Basically, it’s to not mix cars and people,” Crowley said, adding that police will reopen the streets to traffic as soon as it is safe to do so.

“If we don’t need it closed, we’re going to open it,” he pledged.

In addition to the traffic prohibitions, there will be no parking allowed on the closed streets from 6 p.m. tonight until 7 a.m. on Saturday – basically a ban on parking anywhere near the downtown pedestrian malls. Cars also will not be allowed to park in the 400 block of South Galena (adjacent to the Rubey Park bus terminal) or in the alleyway between Rubey Park and the block of buildings containing McDonald’s and Guido’s restaurants. Caution about heaters Deputy Anderson also issued a warning Thursday about the use of emergency heaters in local homes, in the event the Y2K bug causes a widespread power failure.

Authorities learned this week that a number of people have recently purchased heaters normally used for construction sites.

These heaters, Anderson said, are meant for open areas that are still under construction, not homes where the doors and windows are closed.

Without proper ventilation, Anderson said, “They can be life-threateningly dangerous.”

One danger, according to Anderson, is that many heaters produce carbon monoxide that can lead to poisoning. Another, she said, is that many types of heaters are extreme fire hazards when used improperly indoors.

She advised local residents to heat their homes only with heaters specifically tested and rated for indoor use. If there is a question about a particular heater, she said, the Aspen Fire Department is the agency to call for advice. What about parking? Parking will be free on any downtown city streets not closed by police for the holiday, officials said on Thursday.

In addition, the city’s Rio Grande Parking Garage will be open all night, and cars can be parked there for the holiday fee of $3 for the entire night.

Generators have been set up to keep the lights on in case of a power outage, and employees will be on hand with flashlights in case of further emergencies.

“Your car will not get stuck in the garage!” promised a press release issued by Anderson on Thursday.

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