Dear Editor:I am deeply disturbed by the irresponsible editorial in your paper on Jan. 14 urging scrapping the rail on the Aspen branch. It contained errors of fact and errors of logic. It is unfortunately that passion for a trail has overruled the practical. First of all, whether the rail remains in place or is scrapped does not alter the goal and plan to have the trail completed by 2010. Secondly, RFTA did little to nothing to seek out a train operator until the operators of the Royal Gorge Railway happened to see an article in your paper which suggested tearing up the track. Your narrow focus reflects the kind of blinder thinking which has created a stampede mentality. I bring to your attention the fact that the valley’s landfill crisis has not changed. Only 10 years from now, Pitkin County’s landfill will be full. Rail is critical to solving the problem. Protestations that the corridor will be protected for future rail flies in the face of fact. Look only as far as Pitkin Green and our Rio Grande Trail. It, too, was protected and deed restricted for rail. Yet even with that protection, a portion was traded for a riverside trail easement forever precluding rail from the corridor. And don’t forget that the Pitkin Green homeowners successfully threatened Aspen with extended legal action to stop rail from ever being re-established.You speak of a dinner train as the only use for the corridor. The fact is that there is a company ready right now wanting freight delivered by rail and more could be found. Right now there is a group in Glenwood Springs ready to provide that freight service. They have the motive power. They have the insurance. They will maintain the corridor, saving RFTA money.Finally, there is no reason that rail and trail cannot coexist. The trail proposed is excessive and far beyond needs now and in the future. A 10-foot-wide concrete trail simply is not needed over much of the proposed route. The responsible action for the RFTA board to take is to create a task force made up of rail and trail supporters and charge them with creating a cost-effective alternative that would keep the rail in place.Rail in place is the only way to preserve our options for the corridor into the future. Your editorial should have urged prudence. It should have urged caution. It should have been more than instant gratification of a trail at the expense of this valley’s future.Jon BuschAspen
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