A vote to save money | AspenTimes.com

A vote to save money

Dear Editor:This letter is addressed to Aspen citizens. On May 8, you will have the opportunity to take another positive step to ease traffic congestion on Highway 82. A “Yes” vote will authorize the Aspen City Council to amend the right of way easement conveyed by the city to the state of Colorado to permit the construction of bus lanes from Buttermilk across the new Maroon Creek Bridge to the roundabout. In 1996, you approved conveyance of city-owned right of way for rail only. Approval of the May 8 question will permit buses on the already conveyed 1.2-mile right of way between Buttermilk, across the Maroon Creek Bridge to the roundabout.Completion of this section does not predetermine any option on the more controversial portion of the corridor between the roundabout and Main Street. What it does do is take advantage of the narrow window opportunity provided by the construction of the new Maroon Creek Bridge. To complete construction of the bridge with bus lanes now, rather than retrofit it later, will avoid approximately $500,000 in costs. It will allow every bus trip in the corridor to achieve a 10 to 15 minute savings in travel time on this section during peak hours. This recouped travel time is in addition to the approximately 15 minutes saved because of the Main Street bus lanes. This will significantly improve service reliability and reduce transit operating costs. Currently RFTA must add a five-hour shift Monday through Friday, at an estimated $100,000 annually to enable buses to be back on schedule.Is this improvement the complete solution to Highway 82 congestion? No, but it is another step forward. On-time and faster service for RFTA passengers encourages more transit riders. More transit riders remove cars, often single-passenger, from the highway. Skier shuttles in the winter will be able to more quickly and conveniently transport skiers from Snowmass and Buttermilk to downtown Aspen. Buses will not be in automobile lanes. There is no additional conveyance of open space. Use of this right of way does not preclude a future option for rail. Aspen voters have already approved that use. A “yes” vote on this question allows a solution today with available half-cent transit tax funds.As stated above, voter approval of this question does not determine nor influence resolution of the controversial section of the Entrance to Aspen beyond the roundabout to Main Street. Please join me and vote “yes” on this ballot question. We can take a step forward today, rather than mourn a missed opportunity in the future.Helen Klanderud, mayorAspen

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