A solution that’s about time | AspenTimes.com

A solution that’s about time

Dear Editor:Lately, there has been renewed discussion regarding congestion at the Entrance to Aspen. The bulk of the comments have centered on mass transit and reconfiguring the highway into town. Although I applaud the community for continuing to revisit these points, any improvements may take years to implement. In the meantime, I suggest we examine another approach – staggered operating hours. I am not suggesting staggered hours of operation in the traditional sense involving government employees. Rather, I am talking about a major change involving the Aspen Skiing Co. – the largest operation in the upper valley (at least during the winter).What if the Skico changed the operating hours for Buttermilk Mountain to 12 to 7 p.m.? How many employees and visitors would be taken out of the traffic mix during peak times, morning and afternoon, by such a change? What would be the benefits to the Skico and the community? What would be the costs?Benefits? Just imagine the possibilities – twilight skiing on the face of Buttermilk mountain instead of sitting in traffic; after school skiing/snowboarding for kids instead of the current “latch-key” situation; increased usage of Buttermilk mountain instead of an underutilized resource (new twilight pass?); option of dinner at Bumps instead of lunch being the last call; commuting to work during daylight hours; increased shift options for Skico employees; potential efficiency improvements for Skico through level-loading of operations and; lastly, a return to a more user-friendly experience for all morning uphill hikers on Buttermilk mountain.Costs? The cost of installing and maintaining lights on the front of Buttermilk mountain (I am not suggesting lights for West Buttermilk). These lights could be installed this summer and be operating by next winter. The Skico would start to realize a return on its investment almost immediately.It’s not as though twilight use of a ski resort is a novel idea. Ski resorts around the country have offered evening and night skiing/snowboarding for years. Heck, even now, the Skico lights up the front of Buttermilk mountain for the Winter X Games. Why not make the lights a permanent fixture? This is a win-win situation – the Skico gets more traffic on an underutilized facility, and the community gets less traffic on the highway at peak times. And the Skico gets the chance to be a leader in the campaign against traffic congestion. Who knows – maybe other entities will want to follow the leader.Greg ShugarsBasalt

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