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CDOT and the FHWA determined that the Preferred Alternative met the project need, intent, and 10 objectives.
Increases future transit options like trackless trams or driverless buses.
Provides better emergency access and evacuation routes.
Reduces accident rates on the S-Curves.
Increases transit capacity while decreasing transit time with continuous bus lanes from the roundabout to downtown.
Eliminates the S-Curves so traffic will move more smoothly without the two, ninety-degree turns.
Creates direct access in and out of town due to a straighter alignment.
Creates an open space corridor connecting Marolt-Thomas Open Space to the Aspen Golf Course.
Creates a trail connection from the Marolt Bridge to the golf course that is uninterrupted by roadways.
Decreases traffic and congestion in the West End and Cemetery Lane neighborhoods.
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The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process for the State Highway 82 (SH 82) Entrance to Aspen project began in January 1994. A Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) was released for public review and comment in August of 1995. The DEIS evaluated three alternatives between Buttermilk and Maroon Creek Road, and seven alternatives between Maroon Creek Road and the intersection of 7th and Main Street. As a result of comments on the DEIS from community members and other local partners, the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) expanded the analysis to include new alternatives and extend the project limits to Rubey Park in Aspen. The Supplemental Draft EIS (SDEIS) evaluated three additional alternatives between Pitkin County Airport and Rubey Park. The SDEIS was released in July of 1996. In August of 1997, the final EIS was released. The Record of Decision (ROD) was developed as an output of the final EIS. The ROD, which includes the Preferred Alternative, was released in August of 1998.
The Preferred Alternative is the approved option; it is not a silver bullet.
Travel times for general-use vehicles will improve by a couple of minutes, but will not solve the traffic or congestion problems.
The Preferred Alternative will increase travel times from Cemetery Lane to the hospital, Aspen schools, and Aspen Highlands.
The Preferred Alternative requires the existing Castle Creek Bridge to be repaired and eventually replaced to provide traffic access to Cemetery Lane and McLain Flats. It will also serve as a second exit from town.
Nine travel modes were analyzed before the Preferred Alternative was selected. These included:
The community did not vote on the Record of Decision (ROD) or the Preferred Alternative that is included in the ROD.
The foundation of the Preferred Alternative, as described in the 1998 ROD, was the 1996 voter approval of all of the elements that became the Preferred Alternative - such as the right of way through the Marolt and Thomas properties - with one exception: the 1996 vote approved two lanes for all vehicles, one in each direction, and light rail.
In the 1998 ROD, the Preferred Alternative included an interim step before a light rail, allowing for a light rail system to be developed initially as exclusive bus lanes if local support and/or funding were not available. While the 1998 ROD, which contains the Preferred Alternative, was approved by Aspen City Council, the Pitkin County Board of County Commissioners, and Snowmass Town Council, Aspen voters still need to approve the use of buses because buses were not included in the 1996 ballot language - only the light rail.
Yes. In a 1996 election, Aspen voters authorized Aspen City Council to convey the right of way across the Thomas Property for a two-lane highway, one lane in each direction, and a corridor for light rail. The Aspen voters will need to approve the use of buses over Marolt and Thomas properties. The specific timing of a vote has not been determined.
The process for design and construction could take up to 12 years.
The Record of Decision was intended as a phased approach. Elements that have been completed as of 2022 include:
In addition, the City of Aspen implemented additional programs with the intent of increasing the use of alternative modes of transportation. These include:
The next phase of the ROD is the Highway 82 realignment and a new Castle Creek Bridge.
First, in 1981 the right of way was platted across the Marolt property for the extension of Highway 82. In 1996, voters approved using the right of way through the Marolt and Thomas properties for a two-lane parkway, one lane in each direction for any vehicle, and light rail. The 1996 voter approval included a provision to replace the Marolt and Thomas open space with open space of equal value and equal or more significant acreage to replace any net loss in open space. Mills Property, 39.6 acres of open space located along the Roaring Fork River behind the Brush Creek Intercept Lot, was acquired to fulfill the replacement requirement.
CDOT and FHWA are involved in the New Castle Creek Bridge project because Highway 82 is a state highway that also receives federal funding. Both organizations have to be involved in the decision making process. SH 82 is part of the National Highway System. In addition, SH 82 crosses federal waters (Maroon Creek and Castle Creek), which mandates that the FHWA be involved. While Aspen voters can veto or accept whatever ballot issues arise related to the Entrance to Aspen, the state and federal governments’ process is to produce a Record of Decision (ROD) with a Preferred Alternative that identifies and mitigates environmental impacts.