The long-awaited multi-use trail connection between the roundabout and the Aspen Recreation Center is gaining momentum, as elected officials this week approved a contract for the design, planning and engineering of the route that will located on the west side of Maroon Creek Route.
Maroon Creek is a heavily used corridor for cyclists to the Maroon Bells that currently traverse the Aspen School District campus from the trail system that ends at the college parking lot.
The current connection between the Highway 82 roundabout and the ARC is a mix of trail, sidewalk and roadway, according to John Spiess, the city’s greenspace and natural resources manager.
“It’s getting so confusing for people (on the school campus),” he said in an interview Thursday. “We have temporary measures in place, but I think everyone recognizes that this is a dangerous area, especially with e-bikes and their popularity and the speed at which they travel.”
Initial design for the project was originally slated to begin next year, but with the explosion of e-bikes, there is an urgent need to provide a more clearly defined multi-modal trail in the corridor, Spiess noted.
Aspen City Council approved a $122,530 contract on Tuesday with consultant OTAK for initial work, and discussed the importance of the connection the day before during a working session while considering asking voters in the fall of 2022 to reauthorize an open space sales tax 0.5% that funds projects like the Maroon Creek multi-use trail.
“There is a major need for the community to essentially connect the city to the ARC and beyond with a much friendlier and more viable connection than what we have today,” said Austin Weiss, director of parks and recreation for the city, during work on Monday. session. “We’ve worked with the school district over the years and have a great partnership with them, but the reality is there’s a disconnect there because it’s hard to navigate campus. There are conflicting priorities with student safety and public access.
“When you look at the e-bike pelotons that leave town throughout the summer and head to the Maroon Bells, that’s going to be an absolutely essential connection to making it safer for everyone.”
Spiess said the Open Spaces and Parks and Recreation team will meet with OTAK in the coming weeks and begin their work to connect with stakeholders like Pitkin County, which owns the adjacent Moore Open Space, and a private owner along the proposed trail.
Schematic designs and cost estimates for the one-mile trail are expected by May.
OTAK will develop alternatives that take into account a variety of site complexities, including topography, private and public lands, existing and proposed easements, native habitat protection, road crossings, trail connections systems and the increased variety of multimodal devices within the existing system. , according to Spiess.
OTAK will work with city officials to develop three alternative alignments which will be evaluated using a matrix considering the complexity of the site and the suitability of the solution within the context of the project.
Staff will present the preferred alternative to the public, stakeholders, the City Greenspace and Pathways Board, and Council for comment.
According to Spiess, further refinement of the preferred alternative after the comment period will lead to a final schematic design and set the stage for phase two of the project.
Project Resource Studio, an OTAK sub-consultant, will work with the city’s communications department to develop a public awareness campaign around the project.
Construction of the trail is expected to take place during the summer of 2023.