Garfield County commissioners to discuss valley bus route | AspenTimes.com

Garfield County commissioners to discuss valley bus route

John Colson
Glenwood Springs correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS – Garfield County’s elected leaders will be talking Monday about a planned upgrade of the bus system that serves residents, workers and visitors from Glenwood Springs to Aspen.

Only two stops are called for in Garfield County for the “Bus Rapid Transit” system now being planned by the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority (RFTA), and both of those are inside city boundaries.

And, if the Board of County Commissioners follows the recommendation of a county staff member, the county is in favor of the plan as it now stands.

The system, also known as “RFTA on steroids,” is a projected $50 million attempt by the transportation authority to beef up the speed and availability of bus service up and down the Roaring Fork Valley from Aspen to Glenwood Springs.

According to a summary by a Garfield County planner, the system is to consist of nine stations, including one at 27th Street and Highway 82 in Glenwood Springs, and another at Village Road and Highway 133 in Carbondale.

The remaining seven stations will be in either Eagle or Pitkin county, and are planned for El Jebel, Basalt, Brush Creek Road, the Aspen Business Center, Buttermilk Ski Area and the Rubey Park Transit Center in downtown Aspen.

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Seven of those stops are at existing RFTA local or express stops, and will include expansion of an existing park-and-ride lot; two will be at new park-and-ride lots.

And, as part of a “transit service priority” aspect of the plan, there are to be “queue jump lanes” and “signal priority” for the buses at “key intersections,” according to a memo to the commissioners.

The Glenwood Springs station would be the northern terminus of the system, and would provide connections to Glenwood’s own bus system, which serves the downtown and West Glenwood areas.

The Carbondale station is to be located at the existing park-and-ride lot at the north end of town, and a proposed new right-turn-only lane is intended to give the buses a quick way to get into the lot during rush-hour traffic jams.

An “Environmental Assessment” has been drawn up for the project, and is available for public viewing at http://www.rftabrt.com/environmental_documentation.com.

After reviewing the EA, staff planner Tamra Allen wrote in a memo to the commissioners, “In general, the potential beneficial impacts [of the system] far exceed the potential adverse impacts (private property purchase, potential utility relocation, short term impacts to noise levels, utilities, air quality, and minor disruption to traffic).”

The staff recommendation is to “support the assessment and the overall project.”

The commissioners meeting begins Monday at 8 a.m. in the county administration building, 108 Eighth St., Room 100, Glenwood Springs.

jcolson@postindependent.com