Entrance election likely this winter | AspenTimes.com

Entrance election likely this winter

Carolyn SackariasonAspen, CO Colorado

ASPEN It appears that residents will vote on two four-lane alternatives for the Entrance to Aspen within the next six months.Four-lane advocate Jeffrey Evans on Friday submitted to City Clerk Kathryn Koch 850 signatures on two petitions that would bring the questions to the voters. Evans needs 750 signatures for each of the ballot questions. The city clerk’s office has 30 days to verify the signatures to determine if they are valid. Another 10 days is set aside as a protest period. If it’s determined that there are enough signatures, the City Council by law must schedule an election between 60 and 180 days of verification, Koch said. She said she expects to bring the questions before the council in October if there are enough signatures.”[The election] could be held as soon as December or as late as April,” Koch said. Entrance Solution, spearheaded by Evans, began circulating two petitions in May. The initial goal was to put both questions before voters in November.The group later decided to time the submittal of its petitions with an eye toward forcing a special election during the height of the ski season, when local voters are in town and when traffic at the entrance is clogged – “at a time when they’re reminded they have a problem,” Evans told The Aspen Times in July.The petition effort seeks to put two similar questions before city voters. Both propose a four-lane highway, with one HOV lane in each direction, over open space between the Maroon Creek Road roundabout and the upper end of Main Street, crossing Castle Creek over a new bridge. In both cases, the HOV lane would operate as the existing HOV lanes do on Highway 82 between Basalt and Buttermilk – open only to vehicles with multiple occupants during peak commuting hours. The difference between the two proposals is a “cut-and-cover” tunnel that would take the highway essentially underground across part of the open space. One petition includes the feature, the other doesn’t.Both proposals also include a transit envelope for a future light-rail system.Entrance Solution wants both questions on the ballot with the hope of getting majority support for one of them, according to Evans. If both pass, the one garnering more support would take precedence, he said.If the group can get voter approval next winter for a plan for the highway, it then will focus on a countywide initiative to seek funding to build whatever voters approve for the entrance, presuming at least one of the initiatives prevails at the polls and that the state doesn’t come up with the money to build the project.The funding vote would occur in November 2008, when voter turnout should be high, as the ballot also will feature a presidential election.Plus, if one of the initiatives wins approval, Entrance Solution can promote a funding question that feeds off the proposal voters endorse – “kind of use one to leverage the other,” Evans said in July.Carolyn Sackariason’s e-mail csack@aspentimes.com.