Revert to rail? |

Revert to rail?

Dear Editor:Paul Andersens Fair Game column of May 26 in The Aspen Times, entitled Ridin the Rails, was a very good capsule history of rail in the Valley, giving our bikers a background of the bike trail and what might have been.RFTA has been quick to complete a 36-mile paved bike trail on the old D&RGW rail bed between Glenwood and Woody Creek. Bikers can also bike off the highway on a 6-mile promenade between Woody Creek and Aspen.State Highway 82 and the new bike trail follow the routes and gradients built by our intrepid rail pioneers of the late 19th century. What a wonderful amenity our early rail pioneers have provided for the recreational biker! The uniform gradient of the rail bed sure makes a wonderful bike trail!Given the uncertainties of petroleum futures, with the high cost of gasoline, the private auto may become a luxury item for only the rich, with the working class becoming more dependent on public transit. This seems to be our future.I have been blessed with the experience of ridin the rails in the late 40s, when a steam train was the only form of public transit for the Roaring Fork Valley. Those times are gone forever, and only a memory of the distant past. Pauls conjecture that a steam train fueled by Carbondale coal might run on rails that would displace the trail is certainly just a dream. But it may be possible for rail to become a viable solution for the valleys transportation problems.Given the probability of continued high fuel costs and shortages of petroleum products, the efficiencies of rail will prove that rail transit is in our best future. Rail can be powered by renewable, non-fossil, clean energy. Steel wheels on a steel track are still the most efficient means of mass transit. The current alignment of the Roaring Fork bike trail is still an ideal rail-transit corridor. Rail transit would be most efficient! It is sad that our decision-makers cannot see the value of this asset. Perhaps, when the price of crude oil becomes so high, or the highway congestion becomes unbearable, we will make the right decisions. In 1887 the pioneers built two rail lines into this valley; perhaps in time we will once again build a (light) rail line within this valley.Yes, Paul, perhaps history will repeat itself! Jim MarkalunasAspen

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