Letter: Don’t make vehicular access worse
Don’t make vehicular access worse
I ride my bicycle for transportation and recreation across Castle Creek to or from downtown Aspen and Cemetery Lane during all months of the year, totaling more than 400 times per year. Other members of my family add more than 500 bicycle trips across Castle Creek per year. We ride our bikes to and from downtown Aspen far more regularly than we drive.
While I am an enthusiastic cyclist and concur with the idea contained in the 2006 city of Aspen civic master plan that “other modes of travel should be made as safe and convenient as possible to facilitate that goal” and “the level of investment in … more and better bikeways and walkways should increase,” no policy or idea (“convenient as possible”) should be implemented without regard to other resources and impacts. The currently proposed improvements to the Cemetery Lane, Castle Creek Bridge and Hallam Street corridor will do little to improve bicycle connectivity while aggravating an already significant problem: vehicular access to and from downtown Aspen.
The proposed improvements, at a budgeted cost of $2.7 million, will significantly narrow Highway 82 and Hallam Street from Seventh Street to the west side of the Castle Creek Bridge. By narrowing this corridor (10 to 15 feet along Hallam and 5 feet or more across the bridge), outbound Seventh Street left-turn movements will be further slowed, Eighth Street bus stop exiting-to and merging-from movements will be complicated, and the substantial narrowing of the Castle Creek Bridge lanes will undoubtedly slow vehicular traffic exiting from and coming into Aspen. Ingress and egress access to the Music Tent and the Aspen Institute will deteriorate. The result will be more gridlock, more exhaust emissions and an increase in traffic through the West End and on Cemetery Lane.
While improving connections for other modes of travel is a worthy objective, the proposed Castle Creek Bridge and Hallam Street project will violate the Hippocratic concept to “first, do no harm.” The Cemetery Lane underpass is unnecessary and unattractive to pedestrians and cyclists and will create new safety hazards (limited sight lines and sharp turning radii). The proposed Cemetery Lane, Castle Creek Bridge and Hallam Street corridor improvements should be substantially abandoned, and taxpayer funds should be focused on improving the pedestrian and bicyclist connection from Cemetery Lane west of the roundabout under Highway 82 to the Marolt Bridge and the Hopkins Avenue bikeway. The city — with the input of Pitkin County, the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority and the Colorado Department of Transportation — should focus on improving, not aggravating, vehicular access to and from Aspen.
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