HOV lanes are worth something
Dear Editor:I have noticed a few letters to the editor and a recent column that seem to promote a myth that removing the high-occupancy-vehicle lanes from Highway 82 would help valley transportation. In fact, the transportation system is working pretty close to predictions and the HOV lanes are critical to managing tragic growth and congestion. The last 10 years have seen significant job growth in the upper valley while traffic increases have been modest. The traffic models predicted that a major investment in transit (a bus-way or light rail) and HOV lanes would be required to accommodate increased transportation demand while meeting quality of life goals. A mix of carrots (improved transit and HOV lanes) and sticks (paid parking) were prescribed to meet community goals. The HOV lanes are the only current investment that we have made in implementing that program, as Aspen residents have failed to respond to the need for a significant investment in a bus-way or light rail.The HOV lanes provide some reduction in travel time for buses, which is an incentive for riders. A bus-way or light rail would provide the significant time savings that would be required in order to dramatically increase ridership. In addition, the HOV lanes provide an incentive for car and vanpools. Carpools are an efficient complement to RFTA’s valley services.We have not accurately counted the number of passengers per vehicle since 1993, however anecdotal evidence and observations suggest that much of the additional transportation demand over the last 10 years has been absorbed by carpools. It is now common to see three or four construction workers in a pickup truck and employer-sponsored vans making the trek upvalley.Removing the HOV lanes would create a crisis for the transportation system that could only be addressed through ever-increasing lanes of asphalt and expensive parking garages.Aspen needs to move forward on the transit component of our transportation plans rather than backward toward more domination by the single occupant vehicle. The unrestricted four-lane highway is a dead-end idea.Robert SchultzCarbondale
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