Four lanes and common sense
November 11, 2002
Last Friday’s editorial in The Aspen Times is an absolute classic of political spin. It is so typical of their long history of aversion to the obvious, one wonders if Mary Eshbaugh Hayes, the last of the old guard editorial staff, was the author.
Nothing against Mary, by the way, but except for the fact that old habits die hard, we are left with very few plausible explanations for such stubborn consistency.
In regard to the outcome of the recent entrance vote, get this: “Or, it could mean that people fear a four-lane Highway 82, mistrust bus lanes, don’t like rail, treasure open space, or long for Aspen’s small-town past.”
Dear Aspen Times, let me introduce you to the 800-pound gorilla sitting in your lap: Voters will only reaffirm approval for the use of the Marolt property if the proposed highway is expanded to four lanes.
It is clearly pointless to spend tens of millions of dollars to move two lanes, and the inevitable traffic jam they create, from one location to another.
In this election, voters were told by their political leadership that they could achieve one of only two options with the straight shot; either two lanes combined with another two lanes designated for buses only (the practical equivalent of two lanes), or two lanes plus rail.
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Neither option will work, and both have been voted down individually in recent elections. So, what were the voters offered that they hadn’t already rejected?
Aspen voters indicated approval for a four-lane entrance to town by 68 percent to 78 percent majorities in three different elections between 1984 and 1990.
Not surprisingly, voters have never again been offered the opportunity to support that option. After all, how dare a two-thirds to three-quarters majority approve of anything so politically incorrect?
Aspen politicians, those stalwarts of democratic principle, reacted to those overwhelming majorities by requiring the state to create a separate Environmental Impact Statement process specifically for the entrance, for the sole purpose of unilaterally removing four lanes from consideration. What better way to punish people for making the “wrong” choice, but to simply remove that choice from future discussion?
The Aspen Times was a party to this entire manipulation, and is now once again trying to shift focus by pretending that this issue is all about mass transit.
In truth, The Times is merely providing political cover for local elected officials, none of whom are willing to acknowledge that about 95 percent of local voters own and operate motor vehicles. Has any constituency of that magnitude ever been so totally ignored?
Given the opportunity, at least 60 percent of county voters, and somewhere in the range of 55 to 60 percent of Aspen voters, will gladly accept a new four-lane entrance for Aspen, and nothing less.
It’s called common sense.
Up the Crystal