We’ve got traffic, growth and bears … oh my! | AspenTimes.com

We’ve got traffic, growth and bears … oh my!

Dear Editor:

I wish to commend the City Council on its recent decision to “get in touch” with the “trash problems” that continue to exacerbate our “bear problems.” Enforcement with stiff fines just might help to persuade negligent homeowners and property managers to secure their trash from hungry bears. This is a very serious problem, due to the lack of any natural foods i.e., berries and acorns, resulting from the hard freezes this past May.

Kudos to Susan O’Neal for her two letters, “What happened to the Quiet Years?” (Aug. 4) and “Light rail for the good of the whole” (July 31). Traffic is out of control and enforcement is desperately needed to curb speeders racing through stop signs in the West End, which are ignored by sheriff’s officers in SUVs with a cell phone stuck in their ear. Stop signs need to be enforced by the police department and speed bumps installed where practical.

What has been the result of our success? No longer is Aspen the serene and tranquil place of bygone years. Our streets are congested with vehicles. The smell of diesel exhaust permeates the air. At times, air pollution endangers health. The wail of sirens disrupts reflective through. The constant noise of traffic reverberates through the entire town. Main Street is a continuous flow of heavy trucks and cars crawling through traffic lights that back up vehicles in a pall of exhaust fumes. Hapless pedestrians risk life and limb in an attempt to cross Main Street. At times, a wall of traffic divides Aspen and our streets become giant parking lots!

Amen to Roine St. Andre’s great letter, “Construction catastrophes” (Aug. 4). The plague of vehicles is the consequence of our construction growth. Unless we devise a plan to check its proliferation, we will become just like L.A.

I propose we take charge of our future and relegate all rubber-tire transportation to second place. In the past, this community has shown leadership with vision in working toward a rail solution. A rail plan approved by the voters will give us an opportunity to preserve our environment and quality of life in Aspen. Using a much more efficient “steel on steel” light-rail technology, powered from renewable electric energy such as hydrogen, solar and wind power, will provide a viable transit future for our citizens and reduce the environmental impacts of the combustion engine on the quality of life in the Roaring Fork Valley.

Beware of bus systems disguised as “BRT” (Bus Rapid Transit). To paraphrase: “If it looks like a bus and drives/rides like a bus, it must be a bus.” A busway can easily be changed to a de facto highway lane (four-lanes?) with just a few easy paint stripes.

The success of Aspen has become Aspen’s dilemma. Unless we as a community manage our construction growth; we will certainly destroy Aspen. The future of Aspen will be determined by our actions. Let us work together to restore tranquility to our community.

Jim Markalunas