Castle Creek Bridge project manager: Facts and myths |

Castle Creek Bridge project manager: Facts and myths

Peter Rice
Guest Commentary

Project construction is underway on this critical connection for our city. All of us involved in the project — City of Aspen Engineering, Parks, Parking and Street department — thank you for your patience. We acknowledge that construction projects are never ideal for our residents, businesses and guests, but the end result will mean increased safety for all users, improved connectivity and vital infrastructure upgrades that will help support the demands on this corridor for years to come.

Since we’ve heard some misinformation out there, we’d like to share some facts about the project.

Myth: This project is not important.

Fact: This is a top-10 accident spot for the city. This is the busiest corridor in Aspen for motorists, pedestrians, cyclists and bus users. This corridor also has been identified through public input in the Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan (2015) and the Parks and Open Space board as one of the top areas needing attention.

Below the work site is a network of underground utilities and infrastructure that hasn’t been touched in decades. The infrastructure is failing and has required several emergency repairs over the years. Emergency repairs are highly interruptive and costlier than making proactive repairs.

Myth: This is just a trail project.

Fact: In addition to completing this critical trail corridor, the project will make necessary repairs to failing infrastructure and utilities and improves safety for all users. Within the $4.65 million project budget, less than 15 percent of the total cost is for trail construction on the bridge and along Hallam Street. While the trail and transit infrastructure upgrades will be visible improvements to the area, the bulk of the project scope takes place underground.

Myth: This project will benefit only pedestrians and cyclists.

Fact: With roadway repairs, intersection improvements, dedicated bus queues and improved crosswalks — to name a few — there will be better sightlines for all users and will make motorist and transit travel smoother along the roadway. These and other improvements, like the railing separating pedestrians and bicyclists from vehicles on the bridge, also increases comfort and safety levels for all.

Myth: This project goes through the summer.

Fact: From June 12 to Aug. 12 there will be no work that has traffic impacts. This stop in work was designed to provide a break for residents, businesses and commuters during some of the peak season when Aspen sees some of its highest overall traffic counts for the year.

Myth: The project ignored a better option for a timeline/work schedule.

Fact: In this project plan, the contractor worked closely with the city in developing a phasing plan that will maximize springtime work (when Aspen sees its lowest overall traffic counts). By maximizing work during phase I and II, we build in some flexibility for weather days, take a break from traffic impacts during the summer, minimize the number of work days during the peak summer season and steer away from winter working conditions.

This phasing plan also allows for crews to always keep at least one lane open across bridge, minimizing traffic impacts into town. By working extended hours, Monday through Friday and some Saturdays, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., crews maximize daylight hours while minimizing noise impacts to area residents.

Myth: The Power Plant detour will be in effect for the entire project.

Fact: There are shifting traffic patterns for the duration of the project. From approximately Friday to May 6, inbound traffic will take Hallam Street to Sixth Street to Main Street. Outbound traffic will take Fifth Street to Hallam Street/Highway 82.

We’ll see the Power Plant detour again during the daytime in phase II (May 7 to June 11) and phase III (Aug. 13 to October).

Please know that we have heard your concerns and we continue to encourage feedback. The project team is always open to input and questions. As this project moves forward, we will strive to share clear and timely updates and to make adjustments to our operations when possible.

Pete Rice is the Senior Project Manager for the Castle Creek Bridge/Hallam Street Improvement Project. He can be reached at or 970-429-2769.