Obama budget earmarks $24M for RFTA
ASPEN – The Roaring Fork Transportation Authority’s plan to significantly upgrade its bus system is getting a boost from President Obama, the agency recently learned.
The president’s fiscal year 2011 budget includes a $24 million grant to RFTA through the federal Very Small Starts Program. That money would be dedicated to RFTA’s expansion plan known as bus rapid transit, also known informally as “RFTA on steroids.”
“If this amount is retained in the Senate and House versions of the fiscal year 2011 Department of Transportation appropriation bill, and ultimately signed into law by the President, RFTA will be one major step closer to having all of the funding needed to implement its [BRT project],” Mike Hermes, interim BRT project manager wrote in a memo to the agency’s board of directors.
RFTA already received an $810,000 grant in the 2010 appropriation bill.
Roaring Fork Valley voters have also approved bonding authority for up to $25 million for the BRT project, so close to $50 million appears to be secured. The project is envisioned to cost between $45 million and $50 million.
The project will include additional buses that make direct trips between Aspen and downvalley destinations with fewer stops. Bus stops will be upgraded and include real-time information about bus locations. Roadways and intersections will be improved to speed bus travel.
RFTA will hold a series of public meetings throughout the valley this month to discuss details of the bus rapid transit plan. The first round of public input meetings will be:
• Tuesday, Feb. 16, from noon until 1 p.m. and again from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Glenwood Springs Recreation Center.
• Wednesday, Feb. 17, from noon to 1 p.m. at the Rio Grande Room near the Pitkin County Courthouse in Aspen and from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Aspen campus of Colorado Mountain College.
• Thursday, Feb. 18, from 6 to 8 p.m. at the new Basalt library.
• Monday, Feb. 22, from noon to 1 p.m. at the Carbondale Recreation Center.
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The Aspen High School girls soccer team fought off a couple of key injuries to finish in a 1-1 draw with visiting Roaring Fork on Thursday night on the AHS turf. Over in New Castle, Basalt girls soccer edged out Coal Ridge for a 1-0 win.