Idle time at the Entrance to Aspen
The Elected Officials Transportation Commission does not believe that Aspen has a traffic problem. If they do, they prefer to hide behind bureaucracy rather than take action.
Why? First a few facts: Aspen is an idle‐free city that looks to prevent vehicles from producing useless emissions while parked and idling. Aspen has an Environmental Health Department that monitors emissions to help keep them at manageable levels. Aspen has a Canary Initiative that looks to reduce all emissions from those who produce them.
Here is another fact: Every weekday from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., vehicle traffic backs up from the Hickory House to the Hotel Jerome. Hundreds of vehicles idle on Main Street and blow exhaust into Aspen’s air, effectively canceling out the government’s efforts that seek to prevent them. As a local citizen who fights this traffic every day, I believe in a better way.
When the Elected Officials Transportation Commission designed and built the current Entrance to Aspen, they refused to build a four‐lane highway into the heart of this rich mountain town. An internet search for “Entrance to Aspen” gives plenty of history as to why. Instead, they built a two‐lane “parkway” with one vehicle lane and one bus lane. This pushes the inbound traffic backup out to Buttermilk where two lanes merge into one.
However, the one‐lane parkway plan also causes the outbound traffic backup into Aspen. Everybody knows the merge at Sixth Street, but there is the other merge at the roundabout that adds to the backup in Aspen while also backing up Castle Creek and Maroon Creek roads. With the parkway plan, there is only one outbound-vehicle lane and one outbound-bus lane. All outbound vehicles are forced into one lane because the second lane is restricted to buses only. This is where the parkway plan falls short.
Open the outbound bus lane to HOV traffic and we get two outbound vehicle lanes. Two lanes out from the roundabout means twice the flow out of town and half the backup in town. Traffic will be reduced on Main Street, Castle Creek and on Maroon Creek roads. The Roaring Fork Transportation Authority already has designated bus stops beside the travel lane, so this change will not have much impact on their schedules. All this requires is a few extra traffic signs and a few extra diamonds on the road from the roundabout to Buttermilk.
This writer is not a traffic engineer, but I believe this plan will work, and anything is better than inaction.
Aspen is allegedly an environmentally friendly city. Meanwhile, our workers sit idling in traffic every day while wishing for a better way, and our visitors wonder why this rich mountain town cannot solve its traffic problems. Are you tired of sitting in Aspen traffic every afternoon? Contact your Elected Officials Transportation Commission official and ask for two lanes out from the roundabout.
Jason Z. Upper
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