Entrance solution is obvious
Dear Editor:The Aspen Times’ story on the Entrance to Aspen last Friday (July 15) looks like the beginning of the end for the Aspen clique that has prevented progress on this issue for decades.It’s somewhat sad that the other political jurisdictions that make up RFTA even need to remind Aspen that the entire valley is negatively affected by the political and physical gridlock they’ve tolerated for far too long.As much as the situation is obvious, so too is the solution.Tip No. 1 for RFTA: The only proposal for the entrance to ever receive the unqualified and unconditional approval of the majority of Aspen voters is a four-lane highway through the Marolt property on which private vehicles are allowed to use all four lanes, not just two. The closest match to that preference, a highway exactly like the one between Basalt and Buttermilk, is called “2 General Highway Lanes – 2 HOV/Transit Lanes” in the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).Tip No. 2: Given the opportunity, Aspen voters would approve a new “preferred alternative” for two general highway lanes plus two HOV lanes by the same 56-percent to 68-percent margin they approved a simple four-lane highway in 1990. Not that anyone is all that fond of HOV lanes, but compared to what we have now, or two new lanes reserved exclusively for buses or trains, it’s a political slam dunk.Tip No. 3: The Aspen City Council would sabotage any effort to gain voter approval by wording a ballot question to ensure defeat. Something along the lines of: “Should CDOT be allowed to rape and pillage every square inch of open space in the county?” However, any citizens, regardless of place of residence, may circulate a petition to obtain the signatures needed from Aspen registered voters to place an honest proposal on the ballot through the initiative process.Tip No. 4: In their decision dated Sept. 8, 2004, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals cleared the way for the naming of a new preferred alternative. The court found that, “a supplemental EIS is not required where the ROD selects an option which is not identified as the preferred option in the final EIS, as long as the selected option was fully evaluated,” and further reinforced that view by stating that, “the Agency was not required to select the preferred option indicated in the final EIS, and it did not cut off the public’s right to comment by approving an option previously rejected.” Consequently, voter approval for a new alternative isn’t even an EIS legal requirement, but simply satisfies a side agreement between the state and the City of Aspen.Tip No. 5: RFTA has more than sufficient bonding capacity to potentially build the project ASAP, with future reimbursement from the state, as per the roundabout. Tip No. 6: Given Tips 1-5, there is no practical reason for RFTA board members to continue to pretend that we don’t all know the solution to this problem. They can even discuss it in public.Jeffrey EvansSouthern Basalt
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