Will Aspen’s one-way downtown route become permanent?
ASPEN ” Three blocks along Galena Street and Cooper Avenue will likely remain a permanent one-way thoroughfare.
The Aspen City Council will be presented later this month with a recommendation from city officials that suggests the three blocks stay a one-way route. The experimental project began June 11 and was planned to conclude this month.
“I think keeping the way it is is fine,” said city parking director Tim Ware, adding his staff has surveyed every business owner along the stretch and, with the exception of a few people, they support keeping the one-way route. “For the most part, people are happy with it.”
City Councilman Dwayne Romero said he’s not heard of any resistance to leaving it as is and will most likely support a permanent one-way stretch.
“I haven’t heard anything negative from merchants and I think if it wasn’t working, we would have heard about it,” he said.
Officials converted Galena Street from Hopkins Avenue around the Paradise Bakery corner onto Cooper Avenue to Hunter Street into a one-way path to make way for more parking spots by creating angle parking as opposed to parallel.
“It’s appeared to work and made available 20 parking spaces that are extremely valuable to the commercial core,” said Assistant City Manager Randy Ready.
City Engineer Trish Aragon said while she supports keeping traffic moving in one direction because it has made it safer for pedestrians crossing the busy Paradise Bakery corner and on Cooper Street, there are impacts to traffic flow on surrounding streets, which include the intersections of Hunter, Durant, Main and Hopkins.
“The traffic is being pushed to those areas and I don’t want the city to ignore the impacts it’s had on the increased traffic,” she said.
Officials said there are fewer instances of people double parking in front of Paradise Bakery and the one-way travel has slowed cars down in the area, which is heavily used by pedestrians.
The one-way idea surfaced this past spring from the Commercial Core and Lodging Commission (CCLC) in an effort to increase the number of parking spaces in the downtown area.
On Wednesday, the CCLC voiced support for keeping the one-way street and suggested that Hyman Avenue become one-way as well. The idea would be that the road become one-way heading west, so motorists would enter from Hunter Street and could then turn left onto Galena Street. Angle parking could be implemented on the north side of Hyman, offering up more spaces. The south side of that street
already is angle parking.
CCLC members also want city officials to consider eliminating or shortening the loading zones in front of Amen Wardy on Galena Street and in front of Boogies Diner on Cooper Avenue. They argue they are under utilized and take up crucial parking spaces.
“My issue is that it doesn’t need to be 24 hours,” said CCLC member Fred Ayarza. “I hardly see a truck there, and after noon for sure.”
CCLC members said between doing away with loading zones and making Hyman Avenue a one-way street, another 25 parking spaces could be created.
Ware said the loading zones in question are crucial to servicing businesses throughout the commercial core.
“They are pretty busy loading zones and the one in front of Amen Wardy is one of the few loading zones that can accommodate a big truck,” he said, adding it would take much more thought and study from traffic engineers to reconfigure loading zones and more one-way streets downtown. “From someone smarter than I to look at it.”
City Councilman Jack Johnson said he personally doesn’t like the one-way route along Galena Street and Cooper Avenue but will support to keep it if the majority of his colleagues agree.
“I’m not crazy about it because I feel like I’m in a canyon of metal,” he said of driving his small car down a narrow street with large vehicles sticking out into the street. “I guess it’s a balance of aesthetics and character, and parking.”
CCLC chair person Terry Butler, who owns the Residence Hotel on Galena Street, said the one-way route has no doubt eased the parking pressures for her customers.
“This summer, it has made it much easier for me and my guests,” she said. “I can feel the lessening of pressure and I think every retailer in that quadrant feels the lessening of pressure.”
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Mountain Rescue Aspen is expanding its education efforts to try to keep people safe in the backcountry during winters and summers. It will host a workshop on Dec. 8 titled, “How to Plan a Backcountry Tour.”