‘Rails to Trails’ not our intent | AspenTimes.com

‘Rails to Trails’ not our intent

Dear Editor:Regarding the opinion piece, “Transportation Responsibility and You,” by Sabrina Harris in the Oct. 25 issue of the Glenwood Post Independent, lauding the attributes of the Rio Grande Trail:Having served on the Aspen City Council in the late ’90s while negotiations for the acquisition of the D&RGW Right-of-Way were underway and having been a member of the Roaring Fork Railroad Holding Authority upon its acquisition, I must correct Ms. Harris’ assumption that the acquisition was a “Rails to Trails” project. It was never the intent of the Aspen City Council or RFRHA to consider the acquisition a “Rails to Trails” project.Today, members of the biking community are applauding RFTA’s efforts to complete the paving of the D&RGW ROW as a bike path for recreational bikers. But let’s get realistic and recognize that recreational biking and trail hiking are not effective modes of transportation for the general public. How many will ride a bike to work on a cold winter day or a dark stormy night?To set the record straight, it was the intent of the government entities, at the time of the acquisition of the D&RGW ROW, that the corridor’s primary use would be for public transportation (i.e. light rail) and that a bike path or walking trail would be a secondary use within the corridor. Since the acquisition of the corridor nearly a decade ago, the original intent for the corridor has mutated into a paved path for recreational use with little thought for the future of efficient transportation within this valley.In the meantime, congestion continues to build on the four-lane. With increasing development in the Roaring Fork Valley, the number of traffic lights and cars will also continue to increase exponentially. So lets get realistic and define transportation. Do something about the congestion on Grand Avenue and Highway 82. If you want to really solve future transportation problems and fuel shortages with increasing population, you will “get real and get rail.” Otherwise, we will continue to choke on our own congestion and pollution.If we are really serious about a viable alternative to the automobile, we need to look no further than Denver, or Salt Lake City where light rail provides reliable and fast transportation in all weather conditions. Ever increasing traffic volumes in the Roaring Fork Valley justify a serious look at light rail as a permanent solution. Not to consider light rail as an option would do a disservice to the commuting public. Perhaps RFTA needs to change it moniker to “Roaring Fork Trail Authority” to fit its image.Jim MarkalunasAspen

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