Aspen should put brakes on bridge project
Why is it the priority of the city of Aspen to change the infrastructure of the Castle Creek Bridge? If our goals are to ensure clean air, make the CC Bridge sidewalk safer, incentivize more cycling and walking, we can much more effectively and much less expensively reach those goals.
The CC Bridge sidewalk would immediately be safer by installing signage to direct cyclists to use the existing trail under the Bridge to the Hopkins Bikeway. Before implementing an infrastructure change of this magnitude, the first priority should be to implement a comprehensive wayfinding and signage system to help all cyclists find Aspen’s existing 32 trails. To prevent the CC bridge from becoming more of a bottleneck, maintain the S-curve and avoid a future highway through Marolt Open space, let’s keep the existing infrastructure of the CC Bridge and prevent further traffic back-up and increased carbon emissions.
To increase cyclist and pedestrian safety in crossing Main Street, we can build a safe underpass, at a point such as 4th Street. That’s a solution that would support Aspen’s 2,000 students K-12 to more safely access the Hopkins Bikeway and our trail system to Aspen schools. Safe Routes to Schools deserves to be our No. 1 priority, with the added benefit of reducing the local vehicular traffic at the Roundabout.
Over the past three years, at Aspen Open Space and Trails board and City Council meetings, I shared these perspectives and suggested actions to share project plans with all 6,800 Aspen residents and commuters who contribute to our economic vitality and quality of life — yet comprehensive plan details were never effectively communicated to the entire community. When a flyer about the project impact appeared at my door last week, it was clear that communicating plan details to all residents at the outset would have been simple and easy. Diverse community input would add critical value to the approximately 200 survey responses upon which all project planning has been based.
Whatever additional inconveniences, lost productivity, carbon emissions and other impacts of the impending CC Bridge project, of much more critical concern is for future unintended consequences of an 8-foot wide multi-use trail over our most vital transportation connection for more than half of the year. The CC Bridge can only support two lanes due to its load bearing construction — lanes which must remain in the center of the bridge — therefore each lane will be narrowed by one foot each to accommodate the proposed multi-use trail.
With Aspen’s ongoing commercial and residential construction, how can we ignore the increased likelihood of traffic back-up and carbon emissions? During our winter season, snow removal issues will further impede traffic on the bridge. The proposed multi-use trail would concentrate pedestrians and cyclists on the short bridge expanse — dog walkers, strollers, recreational, commuter and E-bikes. How will that be safer than redesigning the sidewalk for pedestrian use?
Let’s ask City Council to put this project on hold, reach out to all residents, and determine a better solution for our goals.
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