Roger Marolt: The sky may be falling, but probably not the Castle Creek Bridge
There are people worried about the Castle Creek Bridge collapsing. I am not one of them. Once in a while something will keep me awake at night, but so far the bridge on the way into town isn’t one of them. I doubt it ever will be.
It’s not that I don’t think the bridge will come down eventually. It assuredly will. I just think when it is time for it to be replaced, somebody other than a letter to the editor author will let us know, possibly even an engineer or a highway builder.
The people who talk about this frequently are worried about a catastrophic event that will leave us stranded with no way to get in or out and envision an extended period of time when we can’t get food into town or garbage out of it, I suppose. Worst of all, without a bridge into town, some loyal tourists might decide to consider other vacation options. I think they would come to Aspen anyways.
What I don’t get about the uproar to upgrade the bridge immediately is that it doesn’t seem to solve this predicted calamity of not being able to get in and out of town for an extended period of time. If we rebuild the bridge, everything will be shut down just the same as if the thing crumbled on its own. I guess if we do it on our own terms, with adequate lead time, citizens can decide whether they want to stay or leave for the few years the construction of the new bridge will require. This way we could get a more accurate head count so we can truck in enough canned goods and bottled water for those electing to weather the construction storm and have Aspen Mountain to themselves on powder days.
It may not be a lot of people who are worked up about this. It may only be a few who talk about it all the time that makes it appear there are more. I don’t know, but it seems to be suddenly a constant hum in the background from those who have been holding their water just looking for a fight with City Hall and can hold it no longer. They’re ready for a pissing match, and they’re ready for it now before somebody’s bladder bursts.
I think we all remember the tale of the boy who cried wolf. I never liked it much. To me it basically says we should never ignore the squawking of loudmouths, liars and idiots, because someday they are bound to be right about something and we’ll all be sorry we didn’t listen to them. Undoubtedly, the story first appeared as a letter to the editor in a medieval small town newspaper. But, Chicken Little, now there’s a story! The dunderheads in it, basically afraid of their own shadows and who believe the sky is falling, all get eaten by a fox.
The thing is, Castle Creek Bridge is not the only way in and out of town. Those who don’t participate in the West End sneak learned this the hard way a couple of years ago when they resurfaced the bridge in the offseasons. There is a two-lane road and a smaller bridge across the creek below the main bridge. It’s not a great alternative should the big bridge cave in, but it’ll do in a pinch.
But, even this isn’t the only alternative. There is also the Marolt Bridge, which basically parallels the Castle Creek Bridge less than a quarter mile to the south. Yes, it was made for bicycles and pedestrians, but is strong enough to hold several emergency vehicles at once, or so I am told.
But wait, that’s not all! We have the Rio Grande Trail that more or less runs from the post office to McLain Flats Road. And, yes, it’s wide enough. It is the old railroad right-of-way.
I hope this helps you sleep better. We have not backed our way into a box canyon. We don’t need to hit the panic button until a real engineer who has done some investigation into the matter tells us to. But that is is not the main reason I write this week about something that is nothing. I just want to point out that some people make up stuff to be angry with local politicians about. That’s all.
Roger Marolt knows that Castle Creek Bridge is falling down, falling down, falling down. But, my fair ladies and gentlemen, not anytime soon. Email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
On a recent September Saturday morning, I awoke with an intense yearning to lose myself in the mountains, disconnect from cell service, and rediscover why I decided to call Aspen home in the first place. Standing there, at the Cathedral Lake trailhead, I knew I was right where I needed to be.