Letter: A unique transportation opportunity for Aspen Snowmass

Through the years, Aspen has responded to numerous problems with solutions that have had national impacts. From a hydroelectric plant in the early mining years to billboard elimination, growth control and smoking bans in the resort years, and now programs such as “Huts for Vets” and “Bridging Bionics,” Aspen has provided creative ideas that have stimulated opportunities and change far beyond our own valley.

The airport could be such an example. As it is situated just about equally between Aspen and Snowmass (3 miles to Aspen and 3.3 miles to Two Creeks at Snowmass), it is possible to develop transit systems to both resorts. This would be totally unique in the ski world.

There is a dedicated right of way from the airport to Aspen on the southwest side of Highway 82. An empty bridge spans Maroon Creek. A new bridge would have to be built over Castle Creek. An electric trolley or train running back and forth from the terminal to town would take about five minutes.

With regard to Snowmass, since the runway is going to be moved west, consideration could be given to constructing an underpass beneath the runway. From the west side of the airport to Two Creeks is 3.3 miles. A possible Snowmass destination terminal could be there. It could be served by a cog railway, a tram or a gondola.

In one way or another, Aspen-Snowmass could become an airport leader by designing an airport around public transportation, unlike Denver International Airport, Eagle and Grand Junction or just about any other airport in the U.S., which are fundamentally “carports.” For us to be planning a new terminal and fixed-base operator with an underground 1,500-car parking garage at an airport that is so close to the major destinations is irresponsible. If we were in Switzerland, public rail planning would have already begun or probably would be completed and built.

Aspen has a chance to rebuild its airport as a model for the world. Not only could it significantly reduce our carbon footprint and lessen overwhelming traffic, but it could be an example or model that people from all over would come to see and experience.

Once again, Aspen could lead the way as we have before.

John McBride