State moving forward with safety fix for Aspen bridge

By Troy Hooper
Real AspenFebruary 8, 2011
Mesh will be installed between the new and old Maroon Creek Bridges where a young man plunged to his death in November, a Colorado Department of Transportation spokesman said Monday.

“CDOT continues work to finalize a design for the safety mesh to be installed between the two bridge structures, also continuing coordination with the State Historic Preservation Office,” CDOT spokeswoman Nancy Shanks wrote in an e-mail to Real Aspen. “We are also in the process of securing a contractor for this work. Within the next two weeks, we will be able to report on a contractor, a budget (or estimate) and a schedule for work.”

Snowmass lift operator George Aldrich, 28, was found beneath the bridges Dec. 13 — a little over two weeks after he exited a local bus at the wrong stop Nov. 27 and, on foot, tried to find his way home in the cold, snow and darkness. The coroner determined that Aldrich fell about 100 feet, likely slipping through a gap between the new Maroon Creek Bridge, built in 2008, and the old one, first constructed in 1888 as a railroad trestle.

Transportation officials have noted that the crack between the two bridges is on the south side, which isn't intended for pedestrian use. There is a pedestrian passageway on the north side of the new bridge.

But friends and family of Aldrich, as well as some Aspen residents, contend the bridges are poorly designed and that someone who is unfamiliar with them would not necessarily know the south side isn't for pedestrians. Factor in snow and darkness, they say, and navigating the bridges on foot becomes less clear and more treacherous.

The newer bridge and old one are parallel to each other with the former featuring a guardrail and the latter a fence. But the new bridge has an arc to it that positions it higher than the old bridge's fence in places. If a pedestrian were not careful or able to see where they were stepping, they could potentially fall through the gap.

“It is heartbreaking that Georgie's death had to be the reason the obvious design flaw will finally be addressed,” Aldrich's family — who live in Rhode Island — wrote in a recent statement to the public. “We would like to thank everyone who had a hand in helping fix this bridge. It is certainly bittersweet for our family.”
The gap between the Maroon Creek Bridges.

The newer Maroon Creek Bridge serves as the main route in and out of Aspen. The older bridge has been preserved, in part, so that it might be used for mass transit in the future.

comments: 1 Comment on "State moving forward with safety fix for Aspen bridge"

dirtbikegirl – Feb. 10, 2011, at 6:33 p.m.

Although I did not know this young man, I am a lover of the mountains and snow as was he.....I visited Snowmass once and what an impression the area made upon me! If circumstances permitted, I might have moved there at one time in my life as did George!
I have been following this story closely as I am a native Rhode Islander and ache for this family's loss....This article is a breath- of- fresh- air, well written and a sensitive closure to an untimely tragic death....Thank you.

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