Next month Aspen City Council will look over final design plans for a remodel of Aspen’s Rubey Park bus depot. The 30-year-old structure sees millions of riders each year and transportation officials say it’s time for an update. Aspen Public Radio’s Marci Krivonen went to an open house at the bus station and filed this report.
On Thursday the City’s Transportation Department held its final open house before designs are submitted in August. Staffers propped up pictures of the designs on a bench and passersby stopped to check it out. Local resident Dorothy Frommer looks over the drawings.
"It’s very exciting, I mean, we’ve outgrown this. It’s time for a facelift, something that’s going to bring it more into this century," she says.
The transit center is showing signs of age. It was built in the late 1980’s.
"It was a different time and environment and a different transit system then," says John Krueger, the Director of Transportation for the City of Aspen.
He says the concrete around the transit center is cracking, the bathrooms badly need an update and bus parking is cramped.
"We looked at the site and wanted to make it as efficient for RFTA and the bus parking as we could, and we need to get better amenities for everyone that comes through here. We have over 4 million riders a year coming through here and we need to have a better facility for that. Something that speaks to what Aspen is."
The construction project will add on to the existing building, almost doubling the current square footage. The inside of the main clock tower building will be remodeled and two additional buildings will be added on each side. One will house offices for Roaring Fork Transportation Authority staff, the other will be public restrooms.
"And it will all be connected with one roof, so it’ll look and feel kinda like one building, but it’s more or less three buildings," says Krueger.
Landscaping around the transit center will improve and the look and feel of the place will change dramatically, says Krueger.
"It’s not just a transit facility, it’s part of town and a special place and I think our design will do that."
One design feature may be hard to miss: green walls and a green roof. Landscape Architect Sheri Sanzone says the grass on the roof improves the quality of rainwater and helps insulate the building.
"Plus it’s awesome to look at. If you’re in some of the buildings that are up higher or on the gondola, you’ll be able to look down and see a green roof rather than a membrane roof or stone ballast roof."
The design comes after lots of public input, including five open houses, meetings with stakeholders and a public survey. Architect Gilbert Sanchez says the result is a reflection of the community’s values.
"There’s an identity about Rubey Park that people have in their minds, so we want to build on that and enhance that. We’ve tried to retain some of the key elements of the existing building, update it so that it functions well and so that it’s a safe place to be and that people like coming in and out," Sanchez says.
Not everyone’s on board. Concerns were raised in letters to the editor in local newspapers last fall. One reader writes she’s concerned a larger bus terminal will diminish the tourist experience and take away from Aspen’s small town character.
City Council already approved a conceptual design for the new terminal and construction could start next year. The project’s cost will likely exceed $5 million. It’s being funded by a mix of sources, including tax dollars and grants from the State and Federal government.