New voices welcome in transportation discussion
September 19, 2006
There’s a new group of players in the valley’s transportation scene, and they’re welcome indeed.Consisting of several longtime, credible participants in the valley’s transportation debate, the New Century Transportation Foundation just may be the catalyst that finally pushes mass transit back to the top of the public agenda. Years have passed since the valley’s public officials have focused on long-term transit planning, but the problem of efficiently moving more and more people up and down the Roaring Fork Valley isn’t going away.With the recent completion of four lanes between Basalt and Buttermilk ski area, it’s easy for the valley’s commuters and public officials to become complacent. The Entrance to Aspen is really the only pinch point where drivers (and bus riders, for that matter) are pulling out their hair on a daily basis.The Aspen City Council has made noises recently indicating possible action on the Entrance, but so far the only significant move has been the creation of the Main Street bus lane. As we’ve said before in this space, the city’s inaction on the Entrance only leaves the door open for an ill-advised initiative campaign for an unrestricted four-lane highway.If Aspen and the Roaring Fork Valley aspire to a smarter, environmentally minded, long-term transportation solution, then someone must step up and lead the push beyond mere asphalt.It could be the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority, it could be the city of Aspen. Or, at least initially, it could be the New Century Transportation Foundation.Certainly New Century members have the knowledge and experience. The group includes former Colorado Department of Transportation engineer Ralph Trapani, former Basalt Councilwoman Jacque Whitsitt, Carbondale Trustee Alice Hubbard Laird, former Snowmass Village Mayor T. Michael Manchester and Dan Richardson, Aspen’s global warming czar. All of these people have paid their dues and know the issues.Last week, representatives from New Century urged the RFTA board to pursue the plans outlined in existing reports and studies and environmental impact statements, versus launching new studies to find different solutions. Group members said some $7 million was spent on regional transit studies between 1993 and 2003, so why reinvent the wheel?We agree. Undertaking new studies will only take more time – and we’re talking years, not weeks or months – with no guaranteed benefit.Take a look at New Century’s website at ww.newcenturytrans.org for more information. And urge your local elected representatives to join New Century in pursuing a “resource-efficient, climate-friendly, multimodal transportation system” to serve the valley and compete with the private automobile.