Housing near Aspen Airport will require a new traffic light on Highway 82
The City of Aspen’s Lumberyard Affordable Housing Project will require a new traffic light at the intersection of Highway 82 and the project entrance, which is approximately 200 yards from another signalized intersection in the center airport business.
This is the result of a transport impact analysis carried out by the consultant Fehr & Peers, which recognizes a significant impact on the level of service at the intersection, and the signal serves as a mitigation.
Aspen Lumberyard driveway is an existing private access from Highway 82 to existing FirstSource and Mountain Rescue Aspen builders.
Aspen City Council spent 3.5 hours in Monday’s business session listening to project details and initially agreeing to a 100% schematic design of 277 units.
“I support the direction we are going,” Mayor Torre said. “The conversations I have about it are difficult. …Large scale development like this, the impacts that come with it run counter to a lot of what I do as a person and as a being, but I recognize that our housing crisis, our community crisis and our workforce crisis is enough for me to support this project despite the challenges and impacts it may bring.
While the city is proposing extensive mitigation measures to reduce trip generation, the traffic analysis conducted by Fehr & Peers presents a worst-case scenario for trip generation from the project.
“In the short term, just after people move from lower valley housing to Aspen Lumber Yard, the Aspen Lumber Yard Project will add approximately 50 vehicle trips to the transportation,” the report said. “This will cause travel times on (Highway) 82 to increase by approximately one minute during peak hours. By 2025 and 2045, growth in regional traffic will lead to increased congestion and delays on (the highway) 82 with or without the project.
“With the addition of Project traffic, peak hour travel times on Highway 82 will increase by two to four minutes with the addition of unmitigated Project trips.”
The city aims to reduce the number of vehicle trips generated by the project by operating dedicated bus service to and from the Aspen lumber yard, purchasing additional bus service, or providing services to better connect stops from the airport to the project.
The city is also offering to provide Aspen Lumberyard residents with bus passes and bike share subscriptions.
According to a survey of prospective Aspen Lumberyard residents, about half of them will move out of lower valley housing. The other half will be moving out of housing in Aspen.
Fehr & Peers assumed that new Aspen area employees are not moving into lower valley housing vacated by new Aspen Lumberyard residents. To account for this, Fehr & Peers reduced the traffic volumes to and from the project by half of the trip generation.
However, the project is still causing significant impacts and several measures are being considered to mitigate 21 net trips out of the 99 trips generated during peak hours.
Fehr & Peers studied eight intersections in the area as part of its analysis.
On Highway 82 near the Lumberyard site, Fehrs & Peers counted approximately 19,000 vehicles per day on January 19 and 20.
On Highway 82 north of Snowmass Creek Road, the location of a Colorado Department of Transportation continuous count station, the consultant counted approximately 23,100 vehicles per day on January 13, 2022.
Seven public transport options are proposed in the transport impact analysis, and whichever is chosen, the costs of this bus service should be integrated into the cost of the overall project, which is now estimated at 400 million dollars,” said councilor Rachel Richards.
“I think the cost of the buses, to serve that, should be added to the project costs from the start so that we’re not going to be later on saying, ‘How can we finance $2 million buses?’ or something like that,” she said. “It’s as much infrastructure in my mind as it is stormwater runoff.”
City staff reviewed the transportation impact analysis and provided feedback to the consultant, and a final report will be delivered to council next month.