Markalunas: West End traffic congestion

Saturday’s article in the Aspen Daily News summarizing the results of the recent West End traffic study commissioned by the city appears to indicate that there will be more of the same indifference by the city of Aspen to the impacts of commuter traffic on the West End neighborhood, which has been used as a highway bypass for many years.

Such policies and indifference heavily impact the quality of life of neighborhood residents.

The summary of the traffic consultant’s report indicates that the recent traffic counts show almost as many vehicles per hour are exiting through this residential neighborhood than are using Main Street and State Highway 82 during the late-afternoon rush hours.

While they indicate vehicle speeds may have been reduced, it is likely because the cars on Smuggler Street are at gridlock, bumper to bumper where little or no speed is possible. Speeding is certainly occurring on the other West End outbound streets: Cars racing through and between stop signs to merge in on Eighth Street to get onto Power Plant Road.

Perhaps the city can consider other strategies to enhance traffic flows through the S-curves if they are not willing to implement traffic-calming features or traffic law enforcement within the West End.

Setting all of the traffic signals — between town and the airport — to prioritize traffic flow on the highway during these rush hours might prove to be a solution worthy of, dare I say, a “Living Lab.”

Had we availed ourselves of a valley-wide, mass-transit system centered around a light-rail solution in the 1990s, when federal funding was available to us, perhaps we would be in a totally different place with regard to the traffic impacts of today.

Lisa Markalunas