Where is your vision?
Dear Editor:Your editorial of Jan. 14 in The Aspen Times daily requires comment.How can you be so naive? How can you be so short-sighted? Where is your vision? Where is your leadership? How can you forget the past? Are we doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past? Must we continue to lament the foul air and auto congestion in Aspen and the valley?Your use of the term “choo-choo” does a disservice to the cause of a long-term transportation solution for the valley. It is this type of flippant terminology used constantly by opponents of a rail solution that misleads the public. Your recent editorial is an example of naiveté in its finest form. Two years ago, I responded to a previous editorial of yours (7/25/03), wherein I expressed my consternation on your lack of vision in advocating the indiscriminate use of the rail bed as a bike path, stating: “Having witnessed the dissolution of many historical sites in this valley, one can only wonder if the removal of seven miles of railroad track in Pitkin County for a very popular and heavily used bike path is but a prologue to the final removal of all the tracks in the Roaring Fork Valley. Will the dream for valley rail remain only a dream, to be swept into the dustbin of history?”Your editorial comment: “The public wants a trail – doesn’t want a commuter rail” is presumptuous. It indicates a lack of understanding of the consequences of decisions made without knowledge of previous efforts. Do you ever refer to your previous editorials and news articles? Or, do you just mirror the popular opinion of the day and forget the lessons of history? If history is a prologue of things to come, I suspect there will be a great uproar when it comes time to replace the track on the roadbed.You mentioned in your editorial of 7/31/03 that a valley trail would be “a great community amenity that would keep more cars off the road” and be “an economic engine.” How much more then, would rail transit serve to reduce auto congestion and sustain the economy of this valley? As a responsible newspaper, your attitude about rail transit is deplorable. Had the public been informed, as in Denver, of the merits of light rail, in an unbiased manner, we might also now have light rail into Aspen.Over the past few years, a concerted effort has been made to pave over the existing rails of the old D&RG rail bed for a bike path. The replacement of rail with asphalt to accommodate bikes is a dangerous precedent. For the preservation of future transit, the track should stay in place. We can provide an interim bike trail within the right of way without the removal of the existing track. “Crusher-fines” or light planking can be placedbetween the rails, so as to provide an adequate interim path for bikes.Recreational activities must not interfere with future transit options. The proposed bike trail must not become a “Trojan horse” to frustrate a long-term transportation solution for the valley. Once you pull the track, you cannot use the existing rail to transport equipment and material for a new rail line. What assurances do we have that any track will ever be replaced? Will we be doomed to travel on dangerous highways for the rest of our lives? How many people will ride a bike to work on a snowy day or a dark night to Aspen? Where is your vision? Where are our leaders?Jim MarkalunasRail advocate
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