It’s not the entrance, it’s the stoplights
October 31, 2002
I commute into town almost daily. There are some days that I cringe at the clogged traffic, and I witness my share of road rage either at the roundabout, through the S-curves or racing down Main Street.
I witness it going home, going west on Main Street as people merge into one lane, and I see it again as people race through the yellow light at Cemetery Lane or as they jockey for position in or near the roundabout.
I cannot, however, conceive of why any rational person would want to vote for the straight shot when it is glaringly obvious that the traffic is stopped, not by the S-curves nor the roundabout, but by the stoplights.
It happens at the AABC, at Buttermilk and especially at Old Snowmass. It doesn’t matter if the road is a two-lane, a four-lane or a six-lane! We already have a stoplight at Cemetery Lane that stops traffic, often backing up traffic well beyond the roundabout west past the Maroon Creek Bridge, and east well into town, often back to the Hotel Jerome.
Now CDOT is planning to move that light to 7th and Main. The stop-lighted traffic, both in town and west of town, will be even worse, not better, because the actual road distance is reduced. If you vote for the “straight shot” (the modified and “CDOT-preferred alignment”), you won’t be getting into town any faster.
There is, however, a NIMBY rationale for advocating either alignment. What a revelation! If the highway goes along the straight-shot alignment, the real estate values will go up along the S-curves. If the alignment stays on the S-curve alignment, the values at the end of Main Street will go up.
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I would venture to guess that most of the funding for either alignment has come from those most heavily affected along those routes. That is the case here, as Anywhere, USA. Those voices blur and contort the real issues.
The voters HAVE voted against four lanes coming straight into town, and the only straight shot vote that HAS passed is the one with two lanes and a rail platform. Therefore, the only reason to vote for the straight shot is to preserve the rail option, since the existing S-curves alignment already has two lanes of traffic.
I’m not willing to vote now for a straight shot alignment into Aspen when no other part of the rail corridor in the valley has been approved and funded by the voters.
I personally don’t think that a rail system will ever happen, because the commuter traffic will always be faster by car or bus, and the seasonal tourist traffic is not large enough to pay for the enormous cost of a rail system.
Someday, if CDOT can fund and clearly justify a valleywide train, both from an operational and capital expense standpoint, I’ll be the first to push for a rail alignment to cross the Marolt-Thomas property, with a direct alignment into Aspen.
In the meantime, CDOT should not spend the $40 million or $50 million to install two lanes of traffic plus a rail “platform” across the Marolt Thomas Open Space and across Castle Creek with a huge new bridge, only to have the resulting traffic be just as slow and congested as it is now.
Vote for the S-curves!
Craig C. Ward