The Entrance debate: Let’s get on with it
Everyone in Aspen is sick to death of the Entrance debate; 27 years have exhausted public patience. Now the city is conducting an “outreach” campaign where everyone is encouraged to put on your traffic engineer’s hat and bring a blank napkin to design on at group meetings. For some odd reason, most citizens seem a bit cynical about any tangible results coming out of this exercise.Others suggest the voters of Aspen will never approve any Entrance solution because the Entrance vote is their only chance to say “NO to growth.” Really? This educated, sophisticated community will condemn itself to traffic hell because we are powerless to affect growth, etc.? This in a town where one person yelling long enough at City Council can affect a change?Maybe the truth is more obvious: When the government proposes an Entrance solution that is elegant, feasible and is appropriate to the quality of life found in Aspen, the voters will finally agree to it. Sure the train was very cool, but most anyone could see the money was never going to work. Sure four lanes of cars would make a difference, but the pure asphalt solution is never going to fly (or drive). Sure the currently approved two lanes of traffic and two of mass transit is less than perfect.More and more people agree the traffic status quo is not acceptable. Isn’t the government supposed to be in charge of infrastructure solutions? Isn’t the government supposed to keep trying to solve the problem until something works?Hasn’t the government spent millions on expert ideas, only to find them lacking?Shouldn’t the government risk rejection by the voters and keep offering alternatives?Aspen voters are too sophisticated to simply reject public improvements out of “growth” spite (see high school, middle school and Burlingame votes). When Aspen voters believe something will work, they’ll vote for it.Solving a problem isn’t this complicated. The city should take the only currently doable and legally approved solution (the Modified Direct), pay to improve its design to Aspen’s aesthetic and open space standards without compromise, and put it in front of the voters with a real pricetag for a decision. If it’s not good enough for the voters, then it’s time for a new two-year Environmental Impact Statement process and try another solution. We’re going to pay for it instead of CDOT now, so why don’t we just get on with it? If one solution doesn’t work you go on to another, and another, until we either fix it or decide what we have is what we will always have. Of course, common sense says the city should try every short-term fix it can feasibly implement in the meantime. Sure, solutions are controversial and politicians have to take sides – that’s why they call it leadership. To simply say the voters are mad as hell and will never approve anything is to disrespect the sophistication of the Aspen voter. Maybe the voters are just picky as hell and they simply want something better, to the point they’ll come to a meeting and draw traffic designs on napkins.Tim Semrau is a longtime Aspen resident and a former member of Aspen City Council.
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