Pitco: Put freight on side rail | AspenTimes.com

Pitco: Put freight on side rail

Another nail was driven into the coffin of the trash train yesterday.

The Pitkin County Board of Commissioners recommended negotiations on a freight-hauling contract between the Roaring Fork Railroad Holding Authority and a New England-based railroad company be postponed indefinitely.

The negotiations between the holding authority and New England and Southern Railroad owner Peter Dearness have been under way since late last year. Dearness is trying to gain permission to set up freight service between Carbondale and Glenwood Springs.

Objections to the deal came out at a Carbondale board of trustees meeting earlier this month, when it was being presented to the various governments that fund the holding authority. Specifically, Carbondale’s residents and elected officials were concerned about Dearness’ plan to haul garbage from the former Mid-Continent mine loading facility through downtown Carbondale and on to Glenwood, where it would be transferred to trains bound for a landfill in Utah.

The county’s recommendation, which will be considered by the holding authority’s board of directors at their next meeting on Oct. 8, follows similar actions in Carbondale and Snowmass Village.

The commissioners felt that it was premature to begin freight operations on the former Denver and Rio Grande Western right of way before a decision is made about whether to build a commuter rail from Glenwood Springs to Aspen.

Holding Authority Director Tom Newland is expected to offer the holding authority’s board of directors three alternatives for dealing with the freight contract: continue negotiations, but seek changes to the contract to deal with Carbondale’s concerns; reject the contract and end negotiations; or postpone talks until December, when the draft environmental impact statement is completed.

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