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Traffic counters parked for local projects

Aspen Public Radio News

Two traffic counts for separate government projects have been measuring activity in and out of Aspen at peak drive times to gather data for local management plans.

Troy Tyler sits in the back of his pickup at the intersection at 8th and Smuggler in the West End, watching the long line of cars and trucks headed out of town. He pushes a button on handheld machine indicating the behavior of each car, biker, or pedestrian, and he does this hundreds of times over two hours.


The day before, he was at Juniper Hill and Highway 82. He’s employed by a traffic counting company out of Denver, gathering data on traffic patterns. His first impressions of the West End traffic?

“It looks like a mess,” Tyler said.  “No, it’s there’s just a lot of pedestrians, a lot of mixed traffic here. I’m surprised nobody’s getting run over.”

Tyler is one of several counters noting speeds, the number of vehicles, and the types of users for two separate projects: the Living Lab on the Castle Creek Bridge and Hallam Street, and the Cozy Point Management Plan.

Pete Rice, civil engineer for the City of Aspen, works with the Living Lab project, which aims to improve the bike and pedestrian corridor from the Castle Creek bridge onto Hallam Street. He said the count will help engineers analyze if the wider sidewalk across the bridge is bringing in more pedestrians and bikes, and if it affects vehicle traffic. He said so far the findings are in line with expectations.

“There is more bikers using the Castle Creek bridge trail and less on the underpass and that vehicle movements haven’t been slowed down - that they are what they are,” Rice said.

Compared to baseline data from last July, Rice said pedestrian traffic has increased by 125 percent, and bike traffic is up 47 percent. There have been two counts this summer, one in June and one in July. Each study spanned two days from 7:00-9:00 in the morning and from 4:00-6:00 in the evening. Combined, they cost about $14,500.

The studies also highlight use patterns during peak traffic. Rice said one interesting finding is that three-axle trucks outnumber RFTA buses in the morning.

“During that one-hour time frame from 7:30-8:30, there’s actually 25 three-axle trucks that come into town, compared to 21 buses,” Rice said.

A similar but separate study at Juniper Hill is being done by Pitkin County Open Space and Trails to assess how people are accessing Cozy Point Ranch. The county hopes to improve equestrian facilities and sustainable agriculture, and anticipates that changes might increase use of the property.

Austin Weiss with Pitkin County Open Space said they hope to have a draft management plan by late this summer.

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