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While the City of Aspen doesn’t have a firm figure, we believe it will cost more than $100 million to include light rail. It is difficult to imagine a time when light rail would be affordable for a community of our size.
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The plan implementation cost was last estimated in 2016 and is listed below. Construction costs have increased significantly since 2016.
A new estimate will be sought during the plan development phase of the project.
Funding for the plan will be a combination of local, state, and federal dollars. However, we won't know the specifics until there is consensus in the community on the path forward for a new bridge.
Most of the impacts of building the Preferred Alternative would be isolated to the adjacent properties of the new bridge. General traffic would follow through the existing S-Curves so that the impacts to this group would occur during the intersection construction at 7th and Main Street, and the construction associated with the tie-in to the existing highway east of the roundabout.
The current Castle Creek Bridge was built in 1961 and designed to last 75 years. The Castle Creek Bridge is nearing the end of its useful life and the City of Aspen believes the choice before the community is to either:
If the community does not want to build the Preferred Alternative AND wants to explore another alternative, it will require opening the Record of Decision (ROD) or creating a new ROD. It is estimated, in 2022 dollars, that the process would cost approximately $7-8 million and take four to eight years to complete, depending on which of the other alternatives the community would want to pursue.
The Record of Decision (ROD) calls for a land bridge of 400 feet. The 400-foot land bridge (or perhaps two shorter land bridges), cannot be increased in size because a larger land bridge, or tunnel, would require specific ventilation and fire suppression systems. Additionally, building a long tunnel would add significant cost to the project.
It is theoretically possible to proceed with light rail now, as Aspen voters approved this in 1996 and the 1998 Record of Decision (ROD) allows light rail. However, the construction and operating cost of light rail are significantly greater than a bus system. Additionally, rail systems are not as scalable as bus systems. For example, during an event like Food & Wine, it would be difficult to add train cars to accommodate the crowds, and comparatively easy to add buses.
Yes. The portion of Highway 82 from Castle Creek Bridge to Cemetery Lane would remain. The traffic light at Cemetery Lane would be removed. The portion of Highway 82 that starts at the intersection of Cemetery Lane and goes to the roundabout would be removed, and the reclaimed land would become open space. The trail along that portion of Highway 82 would also remain.
There are several reasons why implementing the Preferred Alternative, including a second bridge, could be helpful to Aspen residents:
Yes, the current Castle Creek Bridge is safe. As we get closer to the end of its useful life, repairs will be more frequent.
A good analogy for how bridges age is that they are like a paperclip: you can bend it and twist it and then it hits a point when it breaks.
When the Castle Creek Bridge starts to deteriorate, the first step will be to limit the weight of vehicles that go across the bridge – so heavy construction vehicles, large delivery trucks, big fire trucks, and buses will be the first to be prohibited from crossing the Castle Creek Bridge when and if the condition of the bridge warrants weight restrictions.
Yes. In the early 2000s, weight restrictions were placed on the original Maroon Creek Bridge. The first Maroon Creek Bridge was built in the late 1800s and was opened to train traffic in 1888. Automobiles started using the original bridge in the 1920s. In the early 2000s, the Maroon Creek Bridge was temporarily closed to truck traffic because of cracks in the base of the bridge. In 2005, construction of the new Maroon Creek Bridge began. The current Maroon Creek Bridge opened in July of 2008.
The Castle Creek Bridge was last inspected on September 7, 2022. The bridge was rated 50.3 out of 100. The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) rates bridges as “Good”, “Fair”, and “Poor”. A 52.4 rating is “Fair”. Anything below 50 is considered Poor. It is expected that the Castle Creek Bridge will be inspected next in the spring of 2023.
The current Castle Creek Bridge can be repaired. However, the repair would be limited to the superstructure, including elements such as beams and deck. The substructure, which includes piers and abutments, would remain. This process could take 18- 24 months. Some of the repairs could require the closing or rerouting of Power Plant Road. Please note this is for the repair work, not replacement work.
It is expected that repairs of the superstructure of the current Castle Creek Bridge would take 18 - 24 months. Replacement of the substructure bridge elements such as the piers and abutment are not included in this estimate.
If a new bridge over Castle Creek is built as part of the implementation of the Preferred Alternative, after CDOT repairs the current Castle Creek Bridge, they will ask the City of Aspen to take over the old Castle Creek Bridge - and the City of Aspen would need to accept the bridge.
It is a document issued by a federal agency that:1) Is the conclusion of the National Environmental Policy Act’s (NEPA) Environmental Impact Statement (EIA);2) Contains and describes the Preferred Alternative (PA) and the process of selecting the PA; 3) Represents a go-ahead from the federal government to the state government that a project can proceed
City Council asked us to restart this community conversation. Two of the primary drivers are:1) Climate change has created warmer and drier conditions that has led to a longer and more active fire season- so the likelihood of Aspen needing to evacuate has increased significantly since the 1998 Record of Decision (ROD) 2) The Castle Creek Bridge is nearing the end of its useful life.
The cost for the project was estimated in 2016 with bus lanes the capital cost was $102 million. With light rail, the capital cost was $428 - $527 million. The estimates are from 2016 and the cost in today's dollars will be considerably higher.
The project will be paid for with a combination of local, state and federal funding. The exact funding source breakdown would need to be identified later in the process.
Residents will turn left at the current intersection on the existing Highway 82 and right on 7th Street (thought the S-Curves) and then right onto the new Highway 82 alignment to head out of town.
Both have been included in these discussions for years as part of the Elected Officials Transportation Committee. Both will be included as stakeholders during future conversations during the upcoming design phase.