castle creek bridge

Pedestrians use the new, safer sidewalk across the Castle Creek Bridge last week.

Certain details add to the finish on the $4.6 million Castle Creek Bridge-Hallam Street corridor improvement project.

New brick pavers on the east edge of Eighth Street, where the neighborhood WeCycle station will be placed, were too uneven and gap-laden, so city officials required that they be reset. Where the corridor transitions into the West End as it crosses Seventh Street, the sidewalk used to make a tight zig-zag. Now, the angle allows a cyclist to travel a mainly straight line.

On the bridge itself, the new, 8-foot-wide, guardrail-protected pedestrian path was designed to be compatible with snow removal both on the Highway 82 traffic lanes and on the path itself.

“We spent four to five months just looking at the guard rail,” Pete Rice, a project manager in the city’s engineering department, said last week. The path replaces a 4-foot-wide sidewalk dropping directly into traffic that presented a safety hazard whenever it was used by more than one person at a time.  

These aspects are all completed, and traffic detours associated with the project will come to an end at the conclusion of the week.

New bus shelters for the Eighth Street stops are the final pieces to come together and are set to be completed by Friday, Nov. 16. The bus stops, besides the custom-designed shelters, incorporate expanded seating areas, more room for buses to pull out of traffic, decorative pavers, bike racks, stormwater capture basins and real-time bus information. Including the cost of removing the old stops and regrading the sites to make way for the new, the total tab associated with the stops is around $628,000, according to information furnished by the city.

Trish Aragon, the lead city engineer, said her department will next look at improving the pedestrian and biking experience on the Hallam Street corridor east of the project. That street could be made to look more similar to the Hopkins Avenue bike-pedestrian way. Specific proposals to city council will be coming soon.  

+1 
castle creek brige

Pete Rice, project manager in the city’s engineering department, chats with a cyclist using the Castle Creek Bridge on a recent morning.

Awaiting updated rating

The Colorado Department of Transportation built the Castle Creek Bridge in 1961. The work that began in April and included a two-and-a-half month summer break may be the most significant project on the span since then.

The work included improvements to the bridge deck with new sealant and pavement.

“Whatever they did to improve the conditions of the deck is greatly appreciated,” said Tracy Trulove, CDOT spokeswoman.

The bridge’s current rating is a 63 out of 100. When a bridge drops below 50, it becomes a replacement priority, Trulove said. Based on an estimated 75-year lifespan, the Castle Creek Bridge will need to be replaced in 2036, 18 years from now.

“The bigger question is what happens when it has to be replaced,” Trulove said.

She added that the question is crucial to Aspen’s transportation future. CDOT in the 1990s signed off on a plan, known as the “modified direct” alignment, that would result in a new four-lane road cutting across the Marolt Open Space to a new bridge over Castle Creek connecting with Main Street at Seventh Street. Those plans are at best controversial and have been rejected in city-wide public votes, while also at one point passing narrowly in a county-wide election.

In the meantime, the city is waiting on an updated bridge rating. CDOT engineers inspected the structure a number of times throughout the project and will deliver a new report this spring, Rice said.

Curtis Wackerle is the editor of Aspen Daily News. He can be reached at curtis@aspendailynews.com or on Twitter @CurtisWackerle.

Editor