Dear Editor:We are writing in response to the Common Sense Alliance form letter regarding the Entrance to Aspen Environmental Impact Statement re-evaluation process that was recently published in area newspapers.Thank you for your letter acknowledging the congestion and controversy related to State Highway 82 in Aspen. Your letter requests that the current re-evaluation effort for the Entrance to Aspen Environmental Impact Statement be “open, full and fair” and that the process be expanded to analyze the four-lane alternative.The Colorado Department of Transportation places an extremely high priority on being open and honest with the public. We respect that there are always varying opinions with regard to the recommendations or outcomes of our environmental studies, but it’s important that you understand the purpose of an EIS re-evaluation is not to analyze additional alternatives.Transportation affects all of us, and while we wish we could provide a system that pleases everyone, we have to find solutions that best balance and reflect the many conflicting needs or desires of a community. That said, we have already been through the very thorough and open public process of analyzing alternatives during the original 1998 Entrance to Aspen study.The purpose of the re-evaluation is simply to update the technical aspects of the 1998 preferred alternative to see if over time, significant changes have occurred such that: The project is substantially different or changed since the 1998 approval, resulting in environmental impacts that were not previously identified and evaluated; The affected environment has changed in a manner which will result in an impact occurring that was not previously evaluated (i.e., noise, water quality, growth and development, etc.); and/or Regulations or laws have changed, and there are new requirements that were not previously addressed.Please be assured that the EIS re-evaluation process meets all federal regulations and that it includes analysis of the preferred alternative. Through this technical review, if it is found that significant changes have occurred as noted above, previously evaluated alternatives could be considered, and a Revised Record of Decision issued, or a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement, could be undertaken if funding was identified to begin another process to analyze new alternatives. It would be during the SEIS stage that additional public input would be critical.CDOT hopes to complete the EIS re-evaluation document by the end of the calendar year, at which time the City of Aspen will be undertaking a public process to provide the community with the re-evaluation results and solicit input.Thanks again for your interest.Ed FinkDirector, Region 3Thomas E. NortonExecutive directorColorado Department of Transportation
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