A trail that fits the budget | AspenTimes.com
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A trail that fits the budget

Dear Editor:RFTA estimates the Rio Grande Trail will cost $8.5 million. They don’t have the money budgeted. By their admission, at $8.5 million the chances are marginal for completing the trail by 2010. The trail is “the ultimate!” It’s a 15-foot-wide platform with a paved, multi-user, high-use trail permitting three people abreast and a separate gravel footpath for joggers. Why build a 15-foot trail? The trail will run 18 miles through rural country with minimal population. Pitkin, Eagle and Garfield counties are satisfied with their 8-foot rural trails.Mick Ireland, a Pitkin County commissioner, was shocked when he heard of the planned 15-foot width. He is an avid trail rider and has encountered no problems on 8-foot trails in his many years biking with the usual mix of users. He questioned the propriety of the additional cost.An 8-foot trail would cost $6.38 million. It can be built for 75 percent of cost the 15-foot trail. Even if costs a bit more, the savings is significant. RFTA has budgeted $5.35 million and requested federal funding of $1 million for the trail. The $6.38 million 8-foot trail fits the budget. And, fitting the budget assures us the trail can be completed by 2010.It’s irresponsible to spend $8.5 million on a 15-foot trail when the same product is obtained with an 8-foot trail for $2.1 million less and is affordable.Kip WheelerAspen


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