Valley rail wins another nod | AspenTimes.com

Valley rail wins another nod

Allyn Harvey

“Representative [Scott] McInnis and our two senators have been staunch supporters from day one, and they are positioned well to help us out,” said Eagle County Assistant Manager George Roussos.

“I’m not afraid of the financing on this project. We’ve got two teams from two different companies that want to build and run a train in this valley, they’re just waiting for environmental approval. I really think this thing can be financed with minimum risk to the local communities,” said CDOT’s Trapani.

Trapani also pointed out that Highway 82 congestion is expected to return to current levels just five to 10 years after the four-laning project is completed, and that the buses will be stuck in that traffic.

Not everyone at Friday’s meeting was in favor of rail, however.

Nancy Smith has for several months been raising concerns over the use of federal transportation dollars for such a small population base. Her objections have not been based on the so-called moral grounds of some rail opponents; they’ve been based on environmental grounds.

“It seems to me that this money would be better spent to build or improve transit systems in cities where it’s likely to be more effective,” she said.

A member of the Carbondale task force who voted against rail also stood up from the audience and reiterated his opposition to rail.

The holding authority board of directors’ Oct. 22 selection of a “locally preferred alternative” is not likely to survive the environmental impact statement process without alteration, as it involves extensive public hearings.

The original locally preferred alternative in the Entrance to Aspen, which went through a similar process in the mid 1990s, was a two-lane parkway with separate bus lanes along the existing highway alignment past Cemetery Lane. The alternative that showed up in the final environmental impact statement was light rail and a two-lane parkway running through a tunnel under the Marolt Open Space property.


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