Where will all the traffic go?
I have concerns about parking and traffic-generation problems associated with the proposed expansions of the Aspen Art Museum and Wheeler Opera House.
My basic concern stems from the expanded uses and how they will impact the community. The Wheeler currently has five parking places for 275 patrons, staff and no specific parking on-site or elsewhere. Its expansion will double its capacity for seating, staff and performers, and rehearsal times and use will expand as well. The Wheeler as proposed could host two seatings per day which could generate 1,200 people. Using two persons per vehicle as an average, the resulting 600 car trips per day (CTPD) times two (to and from venue) equals 1,200 CTPD. Traffic, traffic, traffic. Where do they park?
The Aspen Art Museum presently has approximately 30 parking places. On any given art event that I’ve attended in the last five years, 750 to 1,000 people attend. The overflow parking creeps all the way to the post office and Clark’s Market. Using the same CTPD formula as the Wheeler, the Art Museum could easily generate 1,000 CTPD.
I would suggest an in-depth environmental impact study focusing on traffic, parking and air-quality problems associated with so many CTPD associated with these expansions. The study should go to bid to an out-of-valley specialist on this subject.
A solution to alleviate the problems with stuffing Aspen proper with lots of smelly cars and solving another sour note in Aspen land purchasing problems is offered. Move the Art Museum to the Aspen Business Center property that the city owns (old lumber yard). Sell half of it to them.
Sell the other half to the Wheeler for its expansion. (Think of a satellite or off-campus theater and music venue with the rehearsal and workshops all with parking). I would also suggest that the existing Wheeler vacant lot be turned into a multistory building with an underground parking structure for exclusive use to the Wheeler with a sublease to the city.
Think outside the core … think green.
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