HOA: Make Aspen intersection safer before it’s too late

Guest Commentary
Pyramid View Homeowners’ Association

We live in the Pyramid View subdivision, across Highway 82 from the municipal golf course at the traffic light and next to the Maroon Creek Bridge.

We are concerned about the signalized intersection on Highway 82 and Pyramid Road that is the entry to and exit from our neighborhood. This intersection is shared with the Jehovah Witness Kingdom Hall and two other subdivisions on the south side of Highway 82 and the golf course and Nordic center on the north side. Our concern is not hypothetical; according to the city’s own data, this intersection has one of the highest numbers of traffic accidents in Aspen.

Since the speed limit is 45 mph (as opposed to the in-town accident sites, where speed limits are 25 mph or less), the consequences of accidents are likely to be more severe. As we know, Highway 82 is not new to fatal accidents. To name two that come to mind: in June, two souls perished when their car was hit at highway speed while turning onto Highway 82 near Basalt; in 2011, Charles Wyly lost his life while pulling onto Highway 82 from the Aspen Airport Road.

The problems are:

1. Traffic on Highway 82 is moving at near highway speeds (speed limit is 45 mph); there is little room to slow down and the traffic pattern is confusing (one bus-only lane, one lane for all other traffic);

2. There is a snow fence which blocks the line of sight to Pyramid Road from Aspen bound Highway 82 traffic as it crosses the Maroon Creek bridge; the same is true where the line of sight is blocked from seeing traffic heading to Aspen;

3. The light change takes too long (as long as five minutes), so vehicles turn right on red notwithstanding the signage prohibiting this;

4. Cars and buses on Highway 82 run this light constantly, for some drivers it’s unexpected and hard to see.

The solutions are:

1. Reduce the speed limit, well before the intersection, to 35 mph in both directions;

2. Remove the snow fence, which blocks the lines of sight, and reconstruct the pedestrian underpass utilizing the additional land in the easement south of the Highway 82 right-of-way;

3. Reduce the long wait times for the light from Pyramid Road;

4. Install a flashing yellow light to warn Highway 82 traffic when the light is red.

Fixing this defectively designed intersection will prevent future accidents and deaths. We urge you to take action immediately and before this occurs. We are happy to meet with you on-site to explain further the dangers inherent in the current situation.

Submitted to Aspen City Council and the Pitkin Board of County Commissioners by members of the Pyramid View Homeowners’ Association, including President Mark Uhlfelder.