Trail shouldn’t replace rail | AspenTimes.com
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Trail shouldn’t replace rail

Dear Editor:

Every party needs a pooper.

The recent hoopla over the opening of a new section of bicycle trail in the valley is marred by the destruction of real transit opportunities, caused by the building of that trail.

The Roaring Fork Transit Authority (RFTA) board’s decision to rip up the long-standing railroad tracks through the valley stands as a local travesty, without parallel in many years. Lost to that shortsighted decision is the rail corridor itself ” now exclusively claimed by bicyclists and skaters ” along with any momentum or motivation to take transit here beyond clunky, road-bound, limited- capacity buses.

That trail celebrants cited a railroad analogy in opening the trail (the so-called “Golden Spike Celebration”) is at best insensitive, at worst a flagrant nose-thumbing to those who have long promoted rail transit as a serious and true solution to the mobility, energy and climate challenges we all face living here.

The original golden spike did unite a nation with a major transportation link. The sham reference to that inspired concept in opening a play trail ironically helps seal the end of a real transportation link.

RFTA officials and recreation promoters will claim that transit on the rail corridor can be revived “someday,” that the trail can just be moved then. Such rationalization is inaccurate at best and, more likely, disingenuous. I challenge those boosters to cite a single instance where a rail corridor sacrificed to recreation use has been subsequently returned to transit service.

Riding my bicycle does wonders for my health, for fuel supplies and for the environment and planet. Having serious, fuel-efficient, fast, reliable rail transit service in the valley would allow thousands to similarly contribute to the improvement of our lives and surroundings.

Using the one to destroy the other is not smart. Building a bicycle trail, however fun and however popular, does not justify the loss of opportunity it has caused.

Steve Smith

Glenwood Springs


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