Tally shows many cross highway at Aspen airport
The Aspen Times
Aspen CO Colorado
ASPEN – People do cross Highway 82 at the Aspen-Pitkin County Airport intersection. And plenty of others dart across the highway between the bus stops or elsewhere, forgoing the protections of a crosswalk and traffic signals.
G.R. Fielding, Pitkin County engineer, can vouch for the crossing habits of pedestrians at the busy spot. He spent the better part of Tuesday observing them. From about 5:15 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. (with a four-hour break when a colleague filled in), Fielding counted pedestrians crossing the roadway and made notes about where they chose to cross.
He tallied 251 people crossing the highway near the airport, roughly a third of whom chose to run across the lanes of traffic, with the median as a refuge, eschewing the crosswalk. Many crossed in the vicinity of the bus stops, upvalley from the Baltic Avenue intersection at the airport and Aspen Business Center.
“It was kind of noticeably slow out there, and still we had 250 people cross,” Fielding said.
The number of pedestrians crossing the highway in the area emerged as one issue for some members of the Elected Officials Transportation Commission, a group of elected officials representing Aspen, Snowmass Village and Pitkin County, in its review last week of a proposed $2.8 million pedestrian underpass linking the bus stops. The proposed location of the underpass – away from the Basalt Avenue intersection – also raised questions.
Two Aspen city councilmen, Torre and Adam Frisch, said they couldn’t support the proposal without information about the number of pedestrians crossing in the vicinity.
“A lot of people cross the highway,” Fielding concluded.
The proposed crossing and a relocated upvalley bus stop would align with a connection into a relocated airport terminal, which is also in the planning stages. Fielding said he can confirm that travelers do ride Roaring Fork Transportation Authority buses to reach the airport.
“I was blown away by how many people actually take RFTA to the airport – people who get off the bus with their kids, luggage, the whole nine yards,” he said.
The transportation commission is expected to take up the underpass proposal again in late April, when Fielding will present his findings.
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It’s that time of year — hikers and mountain bikers must be aware that seasonal closures are taking effect on multiple trails in the area today for the winter for the benefit of wildlife.