Summit seeks progress on Entrance to Aspen
December 14, 2006
Aspen, CO ColoradoCARBONDALE The city of Aspen should ask voters in May to try to resolve part of the Entrance to Aspen impasse, according to people attending a transit summit Thursday in Carbondale.The city should seek permission to use a sliver of open space that would allow construction of bus/high-occupancy-vehicle lanes between Buttermilk and the roundabout on Highway 82, the group advised. The most contentious part of the entrance debate – transportation between the roundabout and Seventh Street – could be divorced from the issue and decided at a later time, the group concluded.The construction of bus lanes between the roundabout and Buttermilk would cost about $12 million, according to Randy Ready, Aspen’s assistant city manager. The Colorado Department of Transportation doesn’t have funds for the project, but the feeling at the summit was that all necessary planning should take place so that the project is ready to go if funds become available.Ready said the city needs permission from voters to use a small piece of open space around Maroon Creek for the bus lane project. CDOT is already building a new bridge over Maroon Creek which can accommodate four lanes of traffic, including a bus lane in each direction. However, the bridge will be constructed to use only two lanes, one in each direction, unless voters say otherwise.The addition of HOV lanes between the roundabout and Buttermilk is part of a bigger plan to get buses from Aspen’s Rubey Park to the Brush Creek Road intersection in 15 minutes. Ready said the addition of a seven-block lane in Aspen for outbound buses saves anywhere from five minutes on good days to 40 minutes on congested days. However, priority for buses is being sought in more of the upper valley to make the bus a more attractive alternative.The Aspen City Council will have the final call on whether to place a question that would clear a path for the bus lane west of town on the May ballot.