Demand transit solutions
Dear Editor:I’m not sure which is worse: the approval by RFTA to pull up the track and pave over the rail corridor for a bike trail, or the most recent proposal by some in Glenwood to turn the corridor into an automobile bypass. Both proposals serve to limit our ability to implement a light-rail transit solution which will ultimately prove to be the only viable alternative in maintaining the quality of life in the Roaring Fork Valley.In the recent debate about the wildlife impacts of the RFTA trail installation, I would like to remind Jacque Whitsitt that of the $8.5 million spent for the transit corridor, only $500,000 was contributed from open space and trails funds. This valley needs year-round, reliable, mass transit options that are not affected by weather. A bike trail, while a nice recreational amenity, can hardly be construed to be a viable transit alternative for the majority of commuters who commute more than a few miles up and down the Roaring Fork Valley every day. If special interests did not dictate to the RFTA Board, it would actually be possible to design the corridor to accommodate both light rail and a trail. While commuters face challenges every day, RFTA seems content to be in the trail business.This valley is desperate for leadership on transit solutions that are viable and environmentally sensitive. The continued degradation of our watersheds, our air quality and wildlife by our dependence on single-occupant vehicles will only serve to further degrade our environment, destroy our wildlife and contribute to global warming.It would be encouraging to see some effort on the part of the RFTA board and other governmental entities to pursue mass transit options that will serve this valley in the long term. A piecemeal approach to transit with special interests influencing the use of the corridor is both short-sighted and destructive. A four-lane entrance to Aspen, while reducing the idling of vehicles stuck in the current automobile congestion, will do little to solve the long-term transit challenges and will only continue to exacerbate parking and air pollution problems. As Steve Skinner noted in his August 15th column, Aspen needs to determine what levels of air pollution we are willing to accept as a trade-off for economic prosperity. To what degree are we willing to poison ourselves and our children to pad our pocketbooks?It is time for visionary leadership. There is a light-rail solution that, if effectively implemented, will solve our transit problems in any weather conditions while maintaining our quality of life, wildlife and open space. It is not about what it will cost. It is about what it is already costing us and what it will cost us if we don’t implement such a solution. We have to demand leadership that will demonstrate the political will to make it happen.Lisa MarkalunasAspen
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