Vickery’s vision for better Main St. to get some study |

Vickery’s vision for better Main St. to get some study

John Colson

An Aspen city councilman’s hopes for a better-looking “Entranceto Aspen” have been translated into a special study by one ofthe valley’s busiest transportation consultants.The Otak consulting company, which is working for numerous governmentalentities up and down the Roaring Fork Valley, hopes to submitideas to the Aspen City Council in April concerning the Entranceto Aspen and a proposed light-rail line from the Pitkin CountyAirport to Rubey Park.City officials recently added another item to the consultants’original $165,000 contract – spend another $10,000 working withCouncilman Jake Vickery on his ideas for “pedestrian enhancements”along Main Street.Roger Millar of the Otak consulting firm said Friday that hisgroup has already met with Vickery and has begun incorporatingVickery’s ideas into their ongoing planning effort.In general, Otak is working on designing the entrance to towninvolving a light-rail line and the new Highway 82 alignment,which will both come across a new bridge over Castle Creek andconnect directly to Main Street. From there, the light-rail line(or a dedicated busway, if voters reject the rail proposal) willcontinue down Main to Monarch, and then turn up to Durant andover to Rubey Park.According to Millar, Otak is also working with Vickery on waysto “improve the pedestrian experience” at the western end of MainStreet, and do something to “break up the runway effect” thatpresents itself to motorists looking east from the intersectionof Seventh and Main.Vickery has been agitating for City Council action regarding thatpart of Main Street, suggesting everything from the possible rezoningof the properties along Main Street to encourage more commercialdiversity, to the placement of a “mid-street refuge” in the centerof the street for people to stand on as they wait for a breakin traffic.But his work with Otak will involve only the streetscape itself,not the zoning categories in the surrounding neighborhoods.Vickery, who has yet to declare officially whether he will runfor re-election in May, believes the city can accomplish severalof his goals for making the western end of Main Street a friendlierplace for pedestrians, independent of ongoing plans to build lightrail or some other transit system to bring people into town.These include his idea of widening sidewalks, installing benches,and intensifying the landscaping and planting trees along theroadway.Chief among his goals, though, is to use the middle of the roadas a “refuge” for pedestrians, possibly with a small piece ofstatuary at the center of a raised island. At present, the onlyintersection being considered for this treatment is at Fourthand Main, although both Millar and Vickery said it might be appropriateat other intersections as well.Millar said the refuge idea is possible because, even after takinginto account a light-rail line and four lanes of traffic, thereis room left for other uses such as parking, turn lanes or islandsin the middle of the street.Vickery also hopes to initiate a program to use some of the spacein front of the businesses and buildings along Main Street asa place for people to gather.These areas, which he termed the “interstitial spaces betweenbuildings and the sidewalk,” might contain seating areas for thepublic or some other kind of public space, according to his vision.Noting that “there’s a chance I won’t be in office past the endof May,” he said he hopes to have some kind of plan in place withinthe next couple of months. He said his ideas are mainly aimedat the north side of the street, because it is the sunny sidein winter and is more hospitable for pedestrians. In addition,he said, on the north side of Main, his innovations would notbe complicated by the presence of the light-rail line.”We’re looking at it independent of light rail,” concurred Millar,”something that could happen to Main Street even if light raildidn’t happen.”

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