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Build trail within budget

Dear Editor:RFTA’s Emma to Glenwood Rio Grande Trail budget was no sooner approved at $5 million over five years, than staff increased its cost to $8 million. RFTA is building a 10-foot-wide trail with a riding/jogging path alongside.To stay within budget, staff has proposed scrapping rails and building on the rail bed. It violates the board approved rule to keep off the rails where economical. This has led to countless discussions. What’s wrong? We need a trail by 2010, not the highway proposed. Build a smaller trail or a crushed gravel trail like that above Emma entirely on the rail bed to Carbondale. Live within the $5 million budgeted!The rails from Glenwood Springs to Carbondale are operational for a light-weight engine at speeds of 20 mph. They represent a $5 million investment if laid new. Building on the rail bed disseminates a functioning railroad and impacts the CIS preferred alignment.Leave these rails, as a reminder they are the CIS preferred alignment. If the trail is implemented on the rail bed, trail enthusiasts and adjacent homeowners will have forgotten the railway is “banked,” and never permit it to be returned to light-rail use. Of the many rails to trails projects in the United States, few have returned to share rail.The trail is started at Emma and as budgeted won’t reach Carbondale for several years. Take the time to decide the fate of the remaining section. Kip WheelerAspen


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