NY Times calls our commute one of the worst | AspenTimes.com

NY Times calls our commute one of the worst

Aspen Times Staff Report

We all know how miserable the daily trek is to and from Aspen. And now, thanks to The New York Times, so does the rest of the country.

The Aspen commute was among five listed in an article in Wednesday’s Times about the worst commutes in the country, under the headline “Five Commutes that make you feel better about yours.”

Among the five, Aspen was the only one that is not in a metropolitan area. The four other nightmare commutes listed were Silicon Valley in California, Detroit, Atlanta and Northern Virginia.

The article laid the blame for the daily gridlock on high prices in Aspen forcing workers to live downvalley and the mountain geography, which leaves little in the way of alternative routes. Alice Hubbard, of the Roaring Fork Railroad Holding Authority, was quoted extensively in the snippet about Aspen.

“Even though the Colorado Department of Transportation has widened parts of the road to four lanes and introduced high-occupancy-vehicle lanes, the road’s tight curves and two-lane stretches can make the 40-mile trip from Glenwood Springs to Aspen a two-hour ordeal. Alice Hubbard commuted for two years from Basalt to Aspen, a 17-mile trip that often took 60 minutes,” said the Times.

A photograph also ran with the article, depicting bumper-to-bumper traffic in front of Buttermilk. The cutline read, “Because hardly anyone who works in Aspen, Colo., can afford to live there, they sit and sit on Highway 82.”

The short article mentions the efforts to build a valleywide train. Hubbard said the rail proposal would help ease the congestion and turn back the clock to Aspen’s mining days.

“We want to recreate what was here 100 years ago,” the article quotes Hubbard as saying. “People will use the train. I think of all the parents who spend so much time commuting. They get home angry, tired, stressed out.”

Light rail was also mentioned in the snippets about the other ugly commutes. In the Silicon Valley, a commuter rail line from Stockton to San Jose began operating last year, the article states. The $54 million, 85-mile system serves 1,100 people a day, but there are still 24,000 vehicles that crawl through the Sunol Grade each day, it was reported. The rail is apparently popular, however, and another train is supposed to be added next year.

In Detroit, the lack of public transportation is the source of that city’s horrible traffic problems, the article states.

“Detroit is the largest metropolitan region in the nation without light rail, subway or commuter rail service. And the bus service is unreliable. The absence of convenient alternatives has also accelerated the deterioration of Detroit’s highway system,” the article states.

Urban sprawl is the cause of traffic problems in the Atlanta area, the article concludes. The result has been air pollution problem that is so bad, the federal government recently told state officials they would be cut off from road money until the levels were reduced. One city planner blamed the growth and resulting traffic problems on the Olympics.

“Ever since the Olympics in 1996, you could see the traffic get worse and worse,” Angel Torres told the Times. “We thought all these people would go home. They never did.”

In Northern Virginia, public transportation can’t keep up with the traffic being generated by growth. Despite having a “superb regional subway system,” according to the Times, traffic has become a nightmare because “the region’s population is shifting to its edges, and commuting patterns become a crazy weave of personal routes all over the region.”


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