The busy pedestrian crossing at Aspen’s gondola plaza, where skiers, cars, bikers and busses come together to make for one of town’s most hectic intersections, is due for an upgrade, according to city officials.
The city has issued a request for proposals, seeking a consultant to study existing conditions at the intersection and recommend improvements to the Hunter Street and Durant Avenue crossing at gondola plaza.
The crossing is in “pretty poor condition,” said Tyler Christoff, project manager with the city’s engineering department. Access for persons with disabilities can be challenging, and stormwater drainage improvements are needed, he said. Traffic, including numerous busses each hour, and all the skiers and snowboarders coming to and from the gondola make conditions “almost dangerous,” he said.
Christoff said potential improvements include better crosswalks, perhaps with different raised materials, like the crossing of Mill Street near the Wheeler Opera House. In general, the idea is to “create awareness” for drivers that the area is heavily used by pedestrians, he said.
A major part of the consultant’s job will be to coordinate with the Aspen Skiing Co., which owns most of the land of the actual plaza.
“Obviously, it’s the SkiCo’s premier entrance to Aspen Mountain,” Christoff said.
The publicly owned right of way ends near the edge of the sidewalk fronting the Little Nell drop-off entrance.
The city has identified the possibility of a “public-private partnership” with SkiCo if it makes sense to enhance the plaza and the intersection. There could also be opportunities to enhance the transit drop-off area to the east of gondola plaza.
Interested consultants must submit their pitches to the city by April 25. More information is available on the city’s webpage at www.aspenpitkin.com/departments/purchasing-city-of-Aspen/open-bids-RFPs .
The Aspen Police Department gives the intersection extra attention, especially when there are high pedestrian volumes at the end of the ski day, said Blair Weyer, APD spokeswoman.
Aspen police records show there have been eight calls for accidents to the intersection since December 2009.