Third lane is best option for bridge
Well, there’s nothing like the Entrance to Aspen to get people talking. A well-written article by Jason Auslander in The Aspen Times (March 27) shared some electeds’ frustration but there is more out there. A lot of Aspenites have seen this go on for 40 years, but now it’s coming back around and it’s being made worse by this project our Council has voted for and starts Monday. The city is spending $4.5 million to add better bike lanes to the current bridge. While that is a good idea, it comes at a high price tag, narrows the existing lanes and seemingly doesn’t address the actual issues and may make them worse.
The Entrance and transportation issues around here are topics that people can vehemently disagree on philosophically. Straight shot versus S-curves, bikes versus cars, trains versus buses, everyone’s got an opinion and most are from each individual’s sole perspective. I still maintain that there are improvements that we can make to the current alignment that can benefit the most people and strengthen our goals and provide solutions.
My suggestion has been for a three-lane bridge that allows a bus lane and traffic into Aspen in the morning, and then a bus lane and traffic out in evening, or used as needed. Minor changes could also be made to the roundabout to facilitate smoother flow through this area. This solution is implementable and affordable with or without CDOT partnering in on the cost, to which they said they might. The latest estimate for a build across Marolt is somewhere between $160 million and $550 million, depending on bus or light-rail capabilities. That kind of funding may never come available until there was an imminent need to replace the Castle Creek Bridge.
At this point, the bridge work is scheduled, the money is all but spent and the summer will be impacted. Keep the three-lane on the table; it is doable and doesn’t preclude any future solutions, if they were needed.