Why scrap rails now?
Dear Editor:The Roaring Fork Valley has an opportunity to increase its vitality and tourism.The rails between and extending into Carbondale and Glenwood Springs are operational for a lightweight engine and cars. They are limited to 20 mph operation, which is ideal for excursion and dinner trains. I rode the Georgetown and Silver Plume railroad and the Leadville railroad excursion trains last summer. They were a fun experience. They each towed about six cars filled with tourists making several trips a day. That’s a lot of tourists. Likely each of the riders spent a night in the vicinity. Excursion trains give a lot of exposure to their immediate and surrounding communities. RFTA has put out a Request for Bids to attract potential operators of an excursion train in the lower valley. The RFP has (too) many restrictions and bidders must respond by March 18. This gives them little time to visit our valley, get to know our communities and make presentations to them showing the economic benefit they can bring. No information showing the value of the opportunity, wonders of our valley and demographics accompanied the RFP. I suggest we extend the time for responses and use the time to sell the concept to the excursion operators.Why tear up and scrap the rails at this time? RFTA does not have the budget to complete this section of the trail for some time. The community has a working railway in place. Tear it up and you have a weed patch and lose an asset. Leaving the rails in place does not preclude them being torn up for scrap in the future. Nor does it preclude a trail being built alongside the rails.Kip WheelerAspen
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