Happened to catch City Council’s latest work session on GrassRoots TV. It concerned the Entrance to Aspen. They were debating whether to put the question to the city voters next November concerning Aspen’s entrance alignment, either across the open space, or the S-curves.
Didn’t we vote on this in November of 2002? We did … the question was: Do you prefer the S-curve alignment or the modified direct (which goes over the Marolt Open Space)? City voters preferred the S-curve alignment 1,400 to 1,119 and county voters also preferred the S-curves 3,056 to 2,938. So why are we revisiting this?
What I also found very interesting as I was watching this work session is that the consultant hired by the city to bring forth the different options is Ralph Trapani, a former CDOT engineer. He was clearly biased to the modified direct alignment, as that was CDOT’s preference back in the mid-’90s. Of the three options presented to council, the two which go right through our open space, the modified direct and the split shot were given a great deal of attention. The other option, a reversible three-lane (two lanes for cars, one lane for buses) on the existing alignment was given very little lip service, in spite of the fact that was the voters’ preference.
So let’s talk money. To go across the open space, the modified directive, which has had a cost analysis done, would cost, in today’s dollars, $62 million, not counting any cost overruns. That’s for 2,200 feet of highway, which comes to $28,181 per foot! The split shot, according to Mr. Trapani, is in the same ballpark. Who is going to pay for this? The state? They have repeatedly said they don’t have the money, and if they ever find it sometime in the next 10 years, why would they fund something that the local community doesn’t even support? Does that leave the city to pay for this? $62 million?
So it seems to me that the far less expensive alternative (the estimated cost of for the reversible third lane is $7 million), working within the existing alignment, makes tremendous sense. No contentious open-space vote, achievable financially, and keeping within the community’s wishes.
Yasmine de Pagter
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