Traffic Analysis Gets Green Light for City’s New Housing Complex at Airport Business Center

Laura Dougherty speaks on live video during an open house at Limelight in Aspen to discuss affordable housing projects on Wednesday, Dec. 15, 2021. (Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times)

The City of Aspen has hired a consultant to study the traffic impacts of a proposed 310-unit affordable housing complex in what is known as the Lumberyard at the Aspen Business Center.

Aspen City Council on Tuesday approved a $76,365 contract with a Denver-based company Fehr and peerswhich includes a transport impact analysis and a transport demand management study.

the work’s extent includes an analysis of transportation impacts around the ABC area and in the Highway 82 corridor.

With 432 parking spaces planned at the Lumberyard site, as well as new housing being built at the North Forty Fire Hall and potentially at Colorado Mountain College west of the ABC, as well as a possible larger airport across the freeway, this section of the Aspen entrance could become a bigger pinch point for traffic than it already is.

Council members expressed their desire for a full traffic study and master planning activity for the area, with funding coming from Pitkin County since the development area borders the two jurisdictions.

“I would discourage council from doing that,” City Manager Sara Ott said. “It’s about understanding the impacts with your developer hat, understanding the impacts of your development on the community and while you’re doing that work deciding what mitigation strategy you want to put forward to deal with that impact. development on traffic.”

Chris Everson, manager of the city’s affordable housing project, said part of the job is to meet land use code requirements, but part of it is voluntary “to address many of the concerns we heard about the whole surrounding area”. the ABC, including Highway 82 throughput and as the City Manager said, it is partly the developer’s responsibility to address these community concerns.

Fehr & Peers’ analysis will include a review of past studies of the area and any potential conflicts with them or future projects, as requested by the city’s transportation and engineering departments.

These studies include the Colorado Department of Transportation’s Aspen Entry Decision Record of 1998; interim results of the Aspen Business Center Traffic Impact Study conducted in September 2020; the technical report of the study on the improvement of public transport in the upper valley of national road 82, completed last June; the analysis of phases 1 and 2 of the integrated mobility system carried out over the last two years; and the study and design led by Kimley-Horn of the Highway 82/Maroon Creek Road roundabout.

Councilor Rachel Richards said that given the ABC’s future development and ongoing traffic issues at the entrance to Aspen, she would like more communication with county commissioners.

“I think we just sit down together, not one of our quarterly meetings where we put five topics into a two-hour session, but really focusing on the issues and discussions of the larger community and discovering face to face where we are … we may be able to jointly share funding in the future,” she said.

Ott said the city had offered to county officials before COVID to be at the table to be part of the planning process for the entire area, but a formal council request to the County Board of Commissioners is appropriate. at this stage.

Fehr & Peers’ analysis will include planning for anticipated changes to the nearby transportation network, other than those of the proposed Lumberyard development.

It will take into account adjacent land uses and future transport projects, including the airport master plan, fire department accommodation at North Forty, traffic issues south of the site at the roundabout and potential red lights along the highway.

The city’s consulting firm will analyze six intersections in the area that connect to Highway 82 and, at the city’s request, traffic data collection will include a week’s worth of average daily high season counts. weekdays and weekends in the morning and evening, and include bicycle and pedestrian counts.

Daily counts will be adjusted to data from summer 2021 conditions.

A related transportation demand management study will include existing transit services and options, estimated ridership and associated costs to provide an acceptable level of service for the Lumberyard, according to Everson.

He told the board that Fehr & Peers’ analysis is key to addressing community concerns about additional traffic in the area.

“It’s a $76,000 traffic study, an incredible amount,” Everson said, “but what we hear over and over about the impacts, we just want to make sure we’ve got it all covered.”

The city on Wednesday hosted a open day showing the public the latest iterations of the design and layout of the Lumberyard project with plenty of options to weigh in on.

This information will be compiled and the project team will return to Council on January 10 to discuss next steps.

[email protected]

Charles J. Kaplan