Felder: Need a new plan for Entrance to Aspen
In my 30-year career in Washington both running and working with federal transportation safety and regulatory programs, I witnessed countless examples of major projects planned and financed looking at the rearview mirror instead of the road ahead.
The Entrance to Aspen project is suffering from the same unfortunate mistake. Focusing on the Preferred Alternative and a Record of Decision formulated 25 years ago would do an enormous disservice to our community.
As Hal Bruff explained in his recent letter, attempting to rely on the environmental analysis done in support of these outdated plans would violate applicable legal requirements. The law requires a timely environmental review, which incorporates what we know about today’s circumstances and assesses future environmental impacts.
The law is simply telling the community to adopt a plan for the Entrance to Aspen that reflects the costs and benefits that apply today.
It is unproductive and misleading to assume that the Entrance to Aspen issue is confined to a choice between the Preferred Alternative and the Castle Creek Bridge.
Importantly, the Preferred Alternative is a plan that has light rail construction and a specific covered bridge as its foundation. Neither of these items is likely to be built as envisioned by the Preferred Alternative.
On the other hand, the Castle Creek Bridge and the S-curves offer numerous potential options for handling the traffic, depending on how they are configured.
There is ample time to formulate a new plan for the Entrance to Aspen that builds on lessons learned since the Preferred Alternative was approved. The plan needs the advice, assistance and support of local, federal and state experts, along with today’s community vision of the future of the Entrance to Aspen.
In my view, the Marolt Open Space should either be preserved as originally intended or if necessary partially altered to accommodate current and future community needs. The Marolt Open Space should not be destroyed to house a transportation plan that clashes with our environmental and community values.