Letter: Entrance isn’t a lost cause
January 21, 2016
Once upon a time, the Entrance to Aspen was on track to be rebuilt so that it would function properly.
The state of Colorado was prepared to issue the final draft of the Aspen-to-Basalt environmental-impact statement.
Our state representative had a special appropriation approved by the state Legislature that would have funded the four-lane expansion of Highway 82 between Seventh Street and Brush Creek Road.
Aspen voters had satisfied the requirement of the city charter to approve any change in use of land acquired for open space by approving a new four-lane highway alignment through the Marolt property.
The project was stopped when two City Council members and one mayor refused to transfer the necessary property to the state. Their action violated everything you think you've known since grade school about the democratic process.
Not long afterward, a subsequent City Council required the state to restudy the portion of Highway 82 between Buttermilk ski area and Seventh Street at Main Street. The purpose of the restudy was to create a new design that would ensure that highway capacity would never be increased and that the level of traffic congestion would thereafter forever remain the same or become worse. The traffic congestion was supposed to encourage bus ridership.
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For many years, it was assumed that the political and procedural mess created by that first council's refusal to do the right thing would be nearly impossible to clean up. However, we now know that isn't true, based on two court decisions. I'd tell you all about them, but you probably aren't interested.
The basic truth about the Entrance to Aspen is that, as easy as it was for three members of the City Council to screw things up, a mayor and two council members could get the project back on track.
Given that a solid majority of Aspen residents want to fix the entrance, the really major mystery is why none of them ever seems to run for a seat on the City Council. David Bach and I will be discussing that very question on his radio program "Bach Talk" at 3 p.m. Monday on KNFO (106.1). We may even take some calls to find out if anybody knows anybody who would like to be on the City Council and fix the highway.
It should be fun, and I may even play the "old guy" card and tell a story or two. Now, children …
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