Newland resigns as railroad holding executive director |

Newland resigns as railroad holding executive director

Allyn Harvey

The face and voice of rail in the Roaring Fork Valley is about to change in a very big way.Tom Newland is officially stepping down at the end of the month from one of the most controversial government jobs in the valley – executive director of the Roaring Fork Railroad Holding Authority.The end of Newland’s tenure all but marks the end of the holding authority, which will soon be folded into the newly formed Rural Transportation Authority.”When I first came on board, I remember saying we need an RTA to manage all of this,” he said. “I’m glad that’s happened.”The holding authority was formed in the mid-1990s as a way for the valley’s governments to purchase and manage the Denver & Rio Grande railroad right of way that runs between Glenwood Springs and Aspen. Seven of eight governments between Aspen and Glenwood run the holding authority with a board made up of one elected official from each entity.The RTA was formed by voters in Aspen, Basalt, Carbondale, Glenwood Springs, Snowmass Village, Pitkin County and Eagle County last fall. Once fully operational, the RTA will run bus service between Rifle and Aspen and manage the rail corridor and the trails that run along it.Newland said he thinks the holding authority will cease to exist sometime in the next 60 days. He is currently negotiating with the RTA to remain on as a consultant until the transition is complete.Newland began his career in government in 1984 as a mapping technician for Pitkin County; by the mid-1990s, he had risen to the position of assistant county manager; in September 1998, he took over at the holding authority.Much of his two-and-a-half-year tenure has been spent managing the corridor investment study that is required before the federal government funds any major transportation projects. Opponents of the proposal to use the corridor for commuter rail regularly attacked Newland for his work on the corridor study. Supporters of the commuter rail idea thought better of him.”I think you’ve done an outstanding job,” said Pitkin County Commissioner Dorothea Farris.Newland is in the process of opening a private consulting firm based in Basalt. Newland Project Resources, Inc. will offer project management, land-use consulting, recreation and transportation planning and mediation/facilitation. Newland said he has a few other leads to help jump-start his new business.”I’m nervous,” he said about changing from the public sector to the private. “But I’m looking forward to it. It should be fun.”

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