A quest to inform about the Entrance | AspenTimes.com

A quest to inform about the Entrance

It was several days after the fact that my attention was directed to Mick Ireland’s “contribution” to the Entrance to Aspen discussion in last Wednesday’s Aspen Times (Guest opinion, Feb. 14).A quote:Jeffrey Evans, “hasn’t petitioned for an up-or-down vote on an unlimited four-lane Entrance because he surely understands that the modified direct, S-curvers and the rail folks would combine to vote down his choice.”We are being asked to believe that a sitting county commissioner and practicing attorney is unaware of the pending District Court lawsuit regarding the city of Aspen’s refusal to allow the circulation of petitions for a binding up or down vote on two options for a four-lane Entrance to Aspen.See entrancesolution.com for more details.Mick never misses a chance to display his utter disrespect for the public, who he believes is so uninformed as to be easy prey for his manipulation of the truth.Would someone with a modicum of integrity please challenge this man for the Aspen mayoral seat? The town really does deserve better.However, it’s not as if the town is being well-served by the existing council. A brief recap of where we are:A Record of Decision, like that which currently calls for a “preferred alternative” of two highway lanes and two lanes reserved exclusively for mass transit, needs to be reviewed in a process called a “written re-evaluation” if no progress is made for more than three years.Early last year, the EOTC (the combined governments of Pitkin County, Aspen and Snowmass Village) entered into a contract with the Colorado Department of Transportation to produce a written re-evaluation for the Entrance to Aspen.According to recent court decisions, CDOT could go ahead and build a four lane highway exactly matching the existing highway between Basalt and Buttermilk, but that option would also need to go through the written re-evaluation process.Consequently, CDOT and the EOTC agreed to limit the scope of the written re-evaluation to avoid consideration of anything other than the preferred alternative, in direct violation of federal regulations. To maintain this narrow focus, the state has had to refuse to acknowledge new information learned since issuance of the original ROD.The new information includes the fact that the comparative process used to choose the preferred alternative contains massive factual errors, and that community acceptability of the preferred alternative seems to have shifted – if you take into account at least three public votes against it in a little more than six years.Given the exclusionary process, the blocked petitions, and public statements from CDOT that the time for public input was the 1990s; and anyone who participated in the city’s recent symposium should be feeling like an abused patsy. But don’t worry, your input will be given a grand unveiling in early April – nearly two weeks too late to be placed on the ballot in Aspen’s May election.The City Council will then try to sell everyone on the idea of using local funds to expand the highway from Buttermilk to the roundabout for the exclusive use of buses. This is intended as a sucker punch for anyone wanting a four-lane highway, because although it would seem to move the process forward, it will actually tie things up in the current traffic jam for at least five more years.Don’t follow?Remember the three year rule for written re-evaluations, discussed above? If the city spends two years getting their bus lane extensions built, we don’t start marking time for the next written re-evaluation until at least 2009. That puts us at 2012-13 for a chance to remove the bus lane restrictions, and extend the highway through the Marolt property.The real political pros count on the public not take the time to read, let alone absorb, a letter of this length or level of detail, and think I’m a total ninny for continuing to try to inform the public of what’s really going on.I think I’ll keep doing it anyway.Jeffrey Evans is a resident of Basalt.

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