$200,000 for rail corridor study is OK’d by authority
The Roaring Fork Transportation Authority reaffirmed Thursday its desire to see the long-awaited corridor investment study released for public comment as soon as possible.
The authority’s board of directors authorized up to $200,000 for completion of the regional, long-range transportation study and the conducting of a public comment period. All of the money will be reimbursed by the federal government, a press release said.
Both the investment study and an accompanying draft environmental impact statement are looking at the various transit options available for the unused rail corridor between Glenwood and Woody Creek. The studies are considered a threat by opponents of rail, who see it as the next step in the creation of commuter rail service between Glenwood and Aspen.
If, after a series of public hearings, the elected leaders on the transportation authority board decide rail is the preferred alternative, it would qualify the region for federal monies to pay for rail construction.
“It’s critical this document get wrapped up and the public have a chance to discuss its contents and comment on them as soon as possible,” said Ralph Trapani, regional manager for the Colorado Department of Transportation. Trapani attended the meeting to urge the board to push for the study’s completion.
One likely scenario to be discussed during the public comment period, according to former Roaring Fork Railroad Holding Authority director Tom Newland, is the enhancement of bus service until some trigger point is reached, such as gridlock on the highway or a certain level of population. At that point, voters would be asked if they want to build a commuter rail line between Glenwood and Aspen.
Several other scenarios are likely to be considered before a preferred alternative is selected.
The Roaring Fork Transportation Authority became responsible for the region’s long-range transportation planning, and thus the corridor investment study and draft environmental impact statement, as part of its mandate from voters last fall.
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A ski season surrounded with uncertainty kicks off on Wednesday. The six inches of new snowfall Tuesday will allow opening of an additional 62 acres on Aspen Mountain, bringing opening-day total to about 160 acres.